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Signage and Wayfinding Systems for College Campuses

This post was written by a colleague at our sister company Kelmscott Communications, Kelly Voss. Kelly has a wealth of knowledge regarding all things wide-format and signage.


Each year, as a new class of juniors advances through high school, they and their parents begin the process of identifying and applying to colleges they want to attend. As the parent of twins entering their junior year, I’ll be doubling down on this. Part of that process involves a campus visit to the school or schools your teenager is most interested in attending. The campus visit includes a guided tour that will introduce you to the highlights and milestones that the school is most proud of. After the tour, it’s important to spend some time away from the guide and get a feel for the campus for yourself. Campus signage and wayfinding plays a big role in your ability to find your way around.


The process for developing signage and wayfinding systems for college campuses really encompasses much more than simply creating signs and maps. Ultimately, the factors that influence this process contribute to the overall experience of any user to want to be on the campus. The goal is for ease of use of course, and for users to have an overall feeling of comfort, welcoming and acceptance—a sense of belonging on campus—as opposed to a sense of discomfort and lack of orientation, leading to unease and desire to leave. Of course, there is much more that contributes to that feeling, but good wayfinding and signage can contribute to a positive experience, or create a sense of confusion and frustration if done poorly.


A tremendous amount of planning, effort and thought goes into creating an effective way-finding and signage system at the institutional level. Many administrative offices will have an interest and will provide valuable input, including facilities management officials, department directors, etc. To ensure a universal perspective, most colleges will form a steering committee that will engage and garner input from all departments. It is important that the needs and objectives of the various points of view are fulfilled with uniformity and effectiveness, within a comprehensive system.


The experience of finding one’s way around campus for the new student or visitor should be relatively effortless and intuitive. Beyond signage and wayfinding, elements such as building architecture, landscaping and grounds, and overall appearance of the campus can contribute to the visitor’s impression of the institution.


Campus wayfinding systems also increasingly encompass mobile apps that work as an aid for navigating campus, coupled with LED programmable signage that can be edited and modified remotely by campus IT staff. In a world where students increasingly look to their mobile device for answers to any question, it is second nature for them to look to their device to find directions as well. As an element of preparedness, many of theses students will have already discovered and activated the app before they even get to the campus. These programs also lend an element of credibility to the school, as an institution that is “in tune” with the needs and habits of each successive generation of prospective students.


There are many factors to consider when contemplating signage and wayfinding systems, most notably, the architectural and environmental settings of the institution itself. Universities in urban settings such as NYU, University of Chicago, or Boston University will face considerably different issues than a college in a more picturesque rural setting such as the University of Virginia, or a Southwestern environment such as the University of New Mexico. One additional issue schools with urban settings face is identifying the edges of the campus. Where the does college end and what is the transition from college campus to city streets? How does the campus signage mesh or differ from the city signage?


Americans with Disabilities Act requirements is another important consideration when designing a wayfinding system. Most schools are fully aware of these requirements and encompass them in building design and construction. ADA requirements call for the design of systems that encompass usage accessibility for all people, at any stage in life, regardless of ability. It encompasses more than just “accessible by wheelchair.” Uniform accessibility ensures that, not only individuals who may be living with disability can have confidence that they will be able to use the system, but that everyone, regardless of ability or disability, will be able to navigate and function comfortably within that environment.


The amount of involvement in the planning and execution stages is directly inversely proportionate to the ease, simplicity and clarity it provides for its users. If the system is planned and executed properly, students and visitors will be easily able to navigate the campus with a minimal amount of effort. That’s the goal. A well-designed system will seem natural and intuitive, and easy to follow. In most instances, the system will be used heavily for the first few weeks of the school year, but as students become familiar with campus and where their classes are, locations become committed to memory and they won’t need it as much. However, visitors will always need to consult signage to find their way around campus.




The Future is Too Bright

By: Chris Tews, Kelmscott Communications


What do you get when you put 10 college students and a professor in a press room? A lot of energy and a glimpse into our future. Judging from the enthusiasm and talent in the group, I am confident in saying that we are in capable hands.

Graphic design students from Indiana Wesleyan University came out for a field trip on a beautiful Saturday morning. They listened well, asked good questions, and enjoyed seeing how the files they create on their monitors are converted into printing plates, press forms and finished work. They especially enjoyed the chance to climb up our 63-inch, 6-color UV offset press!

Looking down from our second floor deck to take their photo, I realized that this picture is a perfect snapshot of our future. The printing industry is in good hands. These young up-and-coming professionals are looking up and ahead to their future. They are creative, energetic, engaged, fun, dreamers, strategic, thoughtful, hopeful and ready to add their voice to an exciting brave new world!

They don’t accept the past or the now; they ask questions like how?, when?, what if?, could we? Their questions challenge me to push myself further. We are in good hands if these young creatives are our future in the marketing communications industry!

Little Nikolas

Eleni Kripintiris

Strategic Account Manager Rider Dickerson


Don’t you love having a personal project that aligns with your professional work? I absolutely adore the idea of a project that has to do with design, print and all things paper.


I recently had the pleasure of creating the look and feel of my son’s Greek Orthodox baptism and reception. I put my creativity and passion for paper to work as I took on the task to create not only the invitation to the event, but also the centerpieces for the reception.


Now, the first order of business was to come up with a theme. I thought about the significance of the baptism and the fact that during the ritual of the baptism, the child receives their name. So, there it is, the focus of my theme was driven by his name, Nikolas.


I did a little research and came across “Le Petit Nicolas”, a character from a series of French books. I was intrigued by the idea of creating a little character. After all, my son is already a little character on his own. Upon an initial creative brainstorming, the character along with some of his attributes is reborn in Greek: “O Mikros Nikolas.” The conceptual cornerstone of my theme has come to life and now I have to remain in charge of the ideas that are rushing through my head. The excitement of all the things that I can create is overwhelming and great.


First things first, I had to design the invite and send it out to guests. I challenged myself to create my own Little Nikolas drawing inspired by Le Petit Nicolas. After many sketches and a bit of tweaking in Photoshop, the character was complete and ready to be placed on the invite.


I designed a logo “O Mikros Nikolas” – which included the drawing, on what ended up as a 5.75-inch square invite. It was done and I was thrilled to be ready to submit for printing. Noteworthy, I was also pleased to be exposed and well versed on paper options through our partnerships with brands such as Neenah.  With the invite complete and its colors in mind, I knew exactly what my options were regarding paper.


I chose Neenah Plike Red 122 lb Cover for a backing layer and Neenah Stardream Crystal Smooth Digital 105 lb Cover for the printed art. I knew that digital printing was the way to go. After printing it was trimmed before being mounted onto the red backing layer. I inserted the invites into 6-inch square kraft envelopes and then attached personalized labels that wrapped around the envelope from front to back to complete the look.


The invites were done and in the mail. Now, I had to think about the event’s décor. A few days later, I happened to be in a meeting with co-worker and friend Kelly Voss. She heads up our large format division and she’s great with tradeshow and event space pieces. She helped me brainstorm a few ideas. All I had to do was mention the character Little Nikolas and she suggested that we print this little character and bubble cut him to display on each table as a component of the centerpieces. Brilliant!



That idea helped me shape the rest of the event décor. Furthermore, the character’s red bowtie became the theme of the entire event. I hand made them and tied them around clear vases, which contained red roses. In addition, I added more clear vases with floating candles.


When I assembled the prototype, I realized that something was missing. So I reverted back to my favorite thing, paper. I grabbed a few sheets of paper that I had lying around and proceeded to try something that seemed like a good idea.


I dressed the vase up with paper and created a collared shirt and pants. Yes, you heard me. I used Stardream Crystal 105 Cover (paper) as a shirt complete with a collar by wrapping it around the vase and included pants out of Stardream Anthracite (a dark charcoal color). Now I took the red fabric bowtie that I made and wrapped it around the collar and there you had it. A complete centerpiece made by little Nikolas’s mommy.



The remaining decor items were a cinch. The party favors were clear plastic 2-inch square boxes filled with chocolates and finished with a bow tie to keep them closed. The guests were greeted with self-standing Plike Red and Stardream Crystal seating assignment signs complete with a poem written by Grandpa. Oh, and I forgot to mention, his grandma also custom hand embroidered a few of the linens used in the ceremony. What a treat, so many keepsakes for our little Nikolas.


The big day arrived and I was excited to share the day with my husband, son, our families and friends. It was a night full of food, drinks, and Greek dancing.



In a Digital World, Relationships Matter More than Ever!

It’s no secret—we are living in a digital age. Don’t think so? Next time you are out and about just pay attention to how many people are walking head down with their eyes glued to their smartphone. Hey, if you see me I might be one of those people too! Technology—specifically the smartphone—has enriched our lives in many ways. We have instant access to information, there’s an app for just about everything, and we can be more connected to our circle of friends, family and business contacts in ways we never dreamed about 10-15 years ago.

But a funny thing is happening—connections forged by social media, apps and video chats can be very superficial. Those relationships—at least the ones that matter to you the most—still need to be nurtured and respected in ways beyond the tap of a finger can provide. The ability to sit across from someone and hold an intelligent and meaningful 2-way dialogue is still an important skill—in fact I say more important now than ever since technology makes it so easy not to have to do this.

In business, there’s no doubt it’s a buyers world. Consumers are working harder and harder every day to stay more anonymous further into the sales cycle. The latest reports indicate that 78 percent of the buyer’s journey is complete before they ever engage a sales professional. What this means is in that 22 percent the sales experience needs to be top level, high touch and highly intelligent. Sales professionals need to be problem identifiers not just problem solvers, and they need to have the finest interpersonal skills—including the most important of all, listening! People will always buy from those who they know, like and trust, so the relationship is paramount. Sound industry/product knowledge is equally important. They go hand in hand. You can’t be a relationship specialist but have no product knowledge—clients won’t trust you to deliver in the end. Similarly, you can have all the product knowledge in the world, but if the client doesn’t like you there’s a really good chance you won’t win their business.

When leads flip to customers, the relationships matter the most. Customer relationship management becomes everything—and no I’m not talking about your CRM! I’m talking about the customer experience and never taking that client for granted. It’s about being an advocate for your client, seeing things from their point of view and always working to exceed their expectations like you did the day you landed them as a client. They say in marriage you should never stop dating. It’s no different with a client. Always court your clients and treat them like they are your only client—no matter how busy you are.

In the end, relationships will always matter. Granted, there are more ways to nurture relationships today, but ultimately it’s the relationships that drive meaningful, long lasting business partnerships. You can’t tweet your way through your business life. At some point, warm, intimate relationship building is needed, and those who can do that with empathy, trust and sincerity will stand out.

I’m excited to work for a company whose brand promise is built on relationships and helping our clients connect with their audiences through authentic experiences. Personally I pride myself on authentic client interactions, and knowing the company I represent lives this as our brand promise is rewarding and energizing. Because no matter how much digital continues to consume our lives we can’t forget people buy from people and always will.

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

January 2017 Project of the Month

The first Project of the Month of 2017 was a special one. It was a collaborative effort between our newly formed company comprising Buhl Press, Kelmscott Communications and Rider Dickerson. The featured project is 2016 Holiday Card.

In 2016, Buhl Press, Kelmscott Communications and Rider Dickerson merged to form a new and exciting company. The 2016 Holiday Card was a total collaboration between the three companies. We could not have been happier with the end result! This year we thought it would be great to showcase our merger by creating a holiday card that represented all three companies’ capabilities. Each company brings fabulous capabilities to the table. Known for their high-end, beautiful print Kelmscott Communications and Rider Dickerson also provide various capabilities to create one-stop successful campaigns. When someone thinks about printing on plastic the name that comes to mind is Buhl Press. For years, Buhl Press has been creating extraordinary projects on plastics with UV ink. When it came to putting together our holiday card this year, it was a no-brainer to create a card that showcased our amazing print and plastic capabilities.

To create the card in the most-timely manner we looked to have the design and concept of the card to be designed by our fabulous designers at Kelmscott Communications. The designer of this beautiful piece was Charisse McAloon. “The goal was to design a holiday day card that would reflect our capabilities. The creative solution captured the essence of the brand and created intrigue.” – Charisse McAloon To achieve the plastic aspect of the holiday card we enlisted the plastic experts at Buhl Press to add just enough flare to our traditional holiday card. The 2016 Holiday Card kept the traditional look of a beautiful holiday card with an amazing twist including the plastic insert. To create the beautiful shimmering element of the card, we used white ink with a silver foil. There were so many amazing elements in this holiday card that we would love to show you if you did not receive one!

If you’d like to see a sample please contact us. We’d love to show you.

Project Title:  2016 Holiday Card

Date of project :   November 2016

Presswork:  Plastic Card: 4/C Process + 2 Whites, backed with silver foil.

Presswork:  The cards were printed on our IGEN 4 Digital Press.  The Flat size was 11.125” x 8.375” and scored and folded in half to 5.5625” x 8.375”.  They were then sent out to diecut and score.  The diecut consisted of only a slit in the 4 corners to accommodate the Plastic insert that Buhl printed.

There was also an address sheet that was printed on the IGEN 4 as well.  This went in front of the card in the envelope and had the addressee’s name and address on it.  This was sized at 5.5625” x 8.375”.

Paper Stock:  The Card itself was printed on 12×18 100# Classic Crest Smooth Cover in Solar White Color.  The Address sheet was printed on 8.5 x 11 65# Classic Crest Smooth Cover in Solar White Color.

Plastic Stock:  .015 Cleary Polycarbonate. Paper: 100# Classic Crest Smooth Cover in Solar White Color with address sheet printed on 65# Classic Crest Smooth Cover in Solar White Color.

Three Incredibly Simple Tips for Achieving Your Goals in 2017

Happy New Year, everyone! With 2017 in full swing, most people have set goals for themselves – both personally and professionally. If you haven’t set your goals yet, no worries, there is always time. Here’s the glitch, though: Did you know that 72 percent of resolutions are broken by February 1? That’s only one month in! Sometimes, we all get grand ideas in our heads and commit to doing things that are way out of reach. If you want to set goals that are achievable to improve yourself in 2017, here are three simple tips to set yourself up for success.


1. Set a goal that is attainable. The main reason New Year’s resolutions sometimes go by the wayside is because many people set goals that are overambitious. If your goal is to eat healthier and currently you are the type of person who eats fast food everyday, you need to create a realistic goal that you will stick to. To say that you will only eat fruits and vegetables is setting yourself up for failure. The best way to go about achieving said goal is to start small by cutting out half of the fast food meals and replacing them with healthier options rather than cutting them all out and then going back to that bad habit a month later. It is a great thing to be ambitious, but it is far more important to be realistic so you can obtain your goal. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are goals.


2. Set a goal that is measurable. It is important to set a goal that you are able to track. To truly be successful and achieve your goal you need to set parameters. If you are able to see progress through measured metrics, you will be more successful at keeping and achieving your goal. Imagine recognizing the $15 and 3,000 calories you’ve saved by eating out two less times a week. Over time, these things add up. And metrics are the proof!


3. Set a goal that is ongoing. The biggest mistake that people make when setting goals is setting a goal that is stagnate. Back to our example, if you set a goal to lose 20 pounds – while that is an amazing feat – what do you do when you have achieved your goal? Do you stop eating healthy and exercising? Set incremental goals that hit targeted time periods. Not only are they measurable (which we pointed out was important above), but these goals can be ongoing.


If you are left trying to pinpoint a few goals for the new year, here are a few of our favorites at Rider Dickerson:

  • Become a better listener or listen before responding.
  • Be more organized.
  • Be early or on time to meetings.
  • Create a healthier lifestyle; eating healthy, making time for exercise.
  • Read more.
  • Create meaningful relationships.
  • Have meaningful conversations; don’t be buried in technology.
  • Do something that is out of your comfort zone (that’s when we grow).

These are just a few examples of goals. Now let’s get crackin’!


By Megan Kucala

Business Development, Rider Dickerson

The Surprising Connection Between Your Core Beliefs and the Buying Persona

This blog post is brought to you by Chris Tews from our sister company at Kelmscott Communications.

By: Chris Tews


What do socks, wrapped gifts and cans of food have to do with success? Everything.


Let’s start here: How do clients choose to buy from you? We often consider identifying prospects and customers by exploring their buyer personas. (A buyer persona is a profile of your client’s attitudes, concerns and criteria that shape them as a consumer.) Our focus on the clients is right and good, but we also need to take time and evaluate our own persona as a company.


You’ve heard it said that the keys to real estate success are “location, location, location.” And, of course, we’ve all heard the familiar phrase “quality, speed, price: pick two.” I would suggest our prospects at their core are looking for something more foundational – a gut level feeling when they make a purchasing decision. They want to feel good about making the decision. They want to do the right thing. Part of that feeling comes from the product and its value. Part of that feeling comes from what they think about the company selling that product.


If you asked your clients what they think of you – beyond what you sell and how friendly your salesperson is – what would they say? How do they really perceive you? Do they feel good about working with you? Are they proud to be associated with your organization?


I’ve had the joy of working at Kelmscott for 5 years. The owner supports many wonderful efforts to make a difference in our community. Here’s where we circle back to my original question. At Kelmscott, we have annual drives for socks, coats and Christmas gifts. A team of employees hand out items at the local food pantry. And there is a constant stream of opportunities to support the local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts (who can say no to Thin Mints?), the PTA and more. The impact this has all made on our culture – and, yes, our success – is immeasurable. Our culture is defined by generosity and giving back. It is this culture that permeates through the employees and shapes who we are as a brand.


People who work at Kelmscott want to work at Kelmscott. We feel good about working for a company that values helping others. Our values channel through the staff into how things get done, the way we care for each other, and, of course, our clients.


In turn, my customers feel good about working with Kelmscott.


What’s my takeaway from this reflection? Building a company that is good to the core is something that comes from being intentional. In any position you hold in your company, from janitor to CEO, you can be intentional about creating a positive impact within and for your corporation.


Why do your clients buy from your company? It just might come down to who you are at your core.

4 Ways to Remain Relevant to Your Audience

This blog post is brought to you by Heidi Robbe, Director of Client Engagement, at our sister company Kelmscott Communications.

Recently, our family tried something new. Instead of our usual daycare, we hired a babysitter. Enter Allison. Allison is in college. She drives a car. She has a tattoo. In short, Allison is cool. The kids loved her because she “got” them. She listened to their favorite musical artists and also introduced them to new music. They played fun (mom-approved) apps on Allison’s phone. She focused on the kids’ interests. Essentially, she was relevant. As a result, the kids trusted her to be their expert in music and all things cool.

The same can be said for businesses. Businesses must work hard to make sure that their messaging builds and maintains confidence in their brands. When we don’t pay attention to whether we are relevant, we risk losing that connection with our customers and clients. So what are you doing to ensure that your marketing remains relevant to your audience? Here are some important ways to make sure you stay in-the-know and connected:

  1. Attend industry events and conferences. Sit in the sessions (without checking your email). Ask questions. Talk to vendors. Network. Some events are free and some charge admission, but if you can learn something new, it is worth the investment of your energy and money.
  2. Use focus groups. A great way to learn if people are engaging with your marketing is to simply ask them. Use a market research firm, or even take an informal poll from your target audience. And don’t make the mistake of assuming that people like your marketing just because you haven’t heard otherwise. Ask for feedback and be open to comments.
  3. Tune in to webinars. On average, I receive invitations to at least a dozen webinars each week. Most are free. Make the time to join webinars because others in your industry are talking about what they do! You may want to purchase their products, or you may gain insights for your own business. For one hour of your time, the payoff could be huge.
  4. Earn new credentials. Continuing education is always important because it keeps you at the forefront. This could mean going to school for a(nother) degree, or it could be earning a certification through powerhouses such as Google, HubSpot, the American Marketing Association, or many others that offer them. Spend a little time to become better versed in a new area, and add some new skills.

Whatever route you choose, remember to continue to grow. Marketing is an exciting field because it is always moving and changing. Stay at the forefront and in-the-know of the most relevant trends and information out there. After all, there is always something new to learn.

Happy marketing!

Our Why

Simon Sinek in his famous “Start with Why” Ted Talk made a point that people judge us buy our why more than our what or our how.  His contention is people buy why you do what you do not what you do or how you do it.  While capabilities and actual services you provide are extremely important to be held to a higher standard. sometimes, there is a deeper reason people work with you.  The emotional transaction your employees provide for your clients goes way beyond what any capability can provide.  This is evidenced by the note one of our employees received recently from a client.  We were so proud to share this note because it reinforces our beliefs that we are doing things the right way and that our why is grounded in emotional attachments to our clients.

At Rider Dickerson, our company goals are to always go above and beyond for our customers. This letter shows a deeper relationship with our customers and how our employee really made this client feel special, well-cared for, and as if they could count on us for anything. Sometimes it’s not always the work that is being done that wins clients, but the human interaction, attention and trust that keeps them coming back. Our “why” has never been a monetary goal but exactly this; our “why” is always going above and beyond and doing everything possible to make our clients happy while making their lives easier.


Hi Dave,

Wanted to send you an update on my end – we are looking at documents early next week (Monday hopefully but maybe Tuesday) as well as confirmed quantities.

Also, on a personal update – I wanted to let you know that I’ve accepted a new job and my last day at this university is next Tuesday.

I cannot say enough how simply awesome it’s been to work with you these past 2 years. You have been beyond wonderful and I am so thankful to you for your patience, your advice, your willingness to work with me no matter the situation, your consistency in production and organization, and most of all – I had fun working with you! =) You are truly great, Dave, and I appreciate that I was able to be one of your clients while at this university. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I wish you all the best, at Rider and in life. And don’t worry – there are still a couple more days of me bugging you. From there, I will be transitioning this project to one of my sturdy, fellow Enrollment Marketers. I’ll let you know who that will be before Tuesday.

For now, happy end of week, Dave. And again – thank you for everything!


A Very Happy & Appreciative Client

Free Education is Key to Loyalty

In today’s world, nothing is free. The ketchup or BBQ sauce that used to be included in your McDonald’s meal is now 25 cents in addition to your meal. The refills of your drink at a restaurant are also an additional charge. The extra bags at the airport, same thing. In a world where everything has an additional cost, we should want to give our clients something valuable for FREE. At Rider Dickerson, we settled on something we believe is extremely powerful.

We have worked diligently to create a platform that offers free education to our clients. Many of you know about printForum and may have even attended one of our events. While building our educational brand over the past six years, we knew that printForum had to be something that was free and that our clients would see the value in. Every day our social media profiles are pushing out free educational information to our followers. From white pages to educational articles on the latest trends, it is available at our client’s fingertips. In addition to our social media platforms, printForum also has its well-known bi-monthly educational magazine. Every other month Rider Dickerson mails out our free educational (no-sales) magazine to our clients for free. Every single one of our clients is eligible to sign up to receive our magazine. Furthermore, just this year, Rider Dickerson began sending out monthly, educational newsletters – eprintForum. Signing up to receive those emails is also, you guessed it, FREE.

Many of you may wonder why we provide our clients all of this amazing educational information at no charge. Well, Rider Dickerson has always believed in the importance of building loyalty and long lasting relationships. Besides, who doesn’t love something that is free? Just a quick example, every year Rider hosts its annual printForum conference. Over the past six years, 80 percent of those who have attended have been repeat attendees! That stat is amazing!! Not only do our clients see the value of our events, but many come back every year for more!

Providing free educational materials may not seem like a big deal, but to our clients who are interested in learning and who regard our company as a resource, it means a lot. Rider Dickerson is in such a competitive industry that bringing free education to our clients is another way we provide extra value. At the same time, we’re building loyal relationships with clients too. We are very proud of our belief in continuing education and see the value in being a resource for our clients. If you are interested in finding ways to add value to your clients, lets’ talk.

Megan Kucala

Business Development

Choosing Print Over Digital

I know what you’re thinking as you roll your eyes: Another blog written by a person in print telling you to “choose print, buy print!” I get it, but in all honesty, I am not the only millennial who feels this way. In my house, I have two young kids. Print is king! We read books, color in coloring books, and make posters for lemonade stands. I try to limit their screen time (in reality, that’s easier said than done). When you have to concentrate and need a few minutes of quiet time, handing the phone over seems like a good option.

And this is exactly why I wrote about this topic. Listen to this amazing story.

One day when I was watching my kids play, my two-year-old son took my phone, unlocked it, swiped to find the folder labeled with his name (he can’t read yet) and launched his games. WHAT?! My mouth just about hit the floor. (I have never given him my phone to open it by himself before.) Seriously, this is the society we live in? Where kids can operate a phone before the age of two but cannot tie their shoes? I was stunned and knew I couldn’t be the only parent whose child did this. I do not want my kids growing up in a society where their faces are buried in their phones. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the kids who were texting while riding their bikes down the street yesterday. When I did some research I was happy to find that although many young kids are distracted by technologies and all that it offers, millennials – although they get a bad rap for being lazy, unmotivated digital natives – were still very much infatuated with print.

Millennials and Generation Z have been dubbed the generations of digital. They are constantly “Snapping” their friends, taking pictures for Instagram, Tweeting about anything and everything, but they do have strong admiration for print.

Research shows that the average 18 to 31-year-old checks their phone 150 times a day (no, that’s not a typo, A DAY!) while 67 percent of millennials say they would rather read a magazine or book in print form rather than on an iPad. I was shocked when I read these conflicting statistics, but after a little bit of thought it made sense. Millennials today are attached to their mobile devices 24/7. They are checking Facebook, answering emails, texting, talking on the phone, etc. When it comes time to unwinding and relaxing, though, they want to do it screen-free. These generations love the tangible element of print. I think many marketers assume that because millennials and Generation Zs are so well connected on social media and other digital platforms that they automatically want their news, magazines, books, etc. digitally. Not true. These misunderstood digital natives go out of their way to choose print for certain areas of their life that they could easily use a mobile device for. So if the generations that we think only love digital media ARE choosing print, maybe some of the marketers that jumped on the bandwagon heralding “print is dead” might want to jump off.

Print will ALWAYS have a part in the marketing mix – even to the most digital-loving generation of them all. Now, if we could just work on those two-year-olds who know how to operate phones to choose print more often…

Megan Kucala

Business Development

Building Your Strategy For Effective Sales

No matter how detailed a sales plan may be, results are what matter. This is why Matt Sharrer wants his clients to do a little soul searching. He asks tough questions about executing the right strategies and the corresponding internal conversations that take place.

Sharers is a partner at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) which is comprised of former sales and marketing leaders that help companies make the number.

For the last 15-plus years, Sharrers has worked with companies such as Ryder, Integrated Device Technology, Informatica, Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman to help fine-tune their sales strategies. We asked Sharrers to break down the five steps he believes help define a successful sales plan.

What are the most fundamental pillars of any sales strategy?

First, it should build on the insights from your market research. Second, it should align with your corporate strategy. And third, it should address exactly how your sales team will achieve its objectives with strategic support from your company’s other departments. For example, the product and marketing teams. With these three pillars in place, you can begin to craft a strategy that enables sales to stay focused on the right investments and grow sales revenue organically.

Walk us through the steps. Define the importance of planning.

You have to develop sales and data plans that allow your team to hit their goals. The whole process starts by creating a clear plan. Define KPIs and determine what data you need to help you make decisions. Determine what talent resources you need. Having a solid sales revenue plan enables your sales team to work in concert. It gives them a clear path to their goal.

How important is the engagement step?

Even supported by a winning marketing team, sales still must generate leads. The engagement step involves prospecting and defining a sales process. Here, you will determine how your sales team interacts with prospects and customers. Begin with prospecting to generate early-stage buyer interest. Next, deploy a sales process tailored to how buyers actually want to buy. This will improve win rates and deal sizes while shortening the sales cycle length.

How does the organizational part of the process work?

You have to figure out how to deploy the resources you secured in the planning phase. Set up the organizational structure so that the right people are in the right roles. They should be able to execute the processes defined in the engagement phase.

You set them up for success by placing them in well-defined territories. Create balanced territories by placing the right reps in the right places. Assign them the right quota and make sure the quota reflects each territory’s potential. Offer a compensation package that drives desired behaviors, but make sure it stays within the corporate budget. And always attract, retain and motivate top talent. To execute your strategy, you must source, hire, coach, train and develop talent.

Doesn’t it all come down to execution?

Yes. This phase is where the real work is done. It’s where you focus on sales enablement and pipeline/forecast management. Start by determining how you will drive adoption of new sales initiatives:

• What content does the sales team need?

• How do you communicate new sales enablement initiatives?

• How do you package the material into a playbook, and how do you make it available when it’s needed?

• What should your training program include to build the necessary sales skills? How do you reinforce that through coaching?

• How do you measure the effectiveness of your enablement investments?

Focus on getting the right content to the right people at the right time. But stay agile and incorporate lessons from successes and failures along the way.

Define the importance of analyzing the data.

The data requirements you determined in the planning phase should come alive through reporting. Forecasting issues can result in a loss of credibility. So think through your pipeline carefully:

• What pipeline/forecast management process do you need to drive accuracy?

• How should you train your team on this process?

• How should you account for big deals in your forecast?

Conduct quarterly business reviews that help the sales team make the number.

What’s the best way to support your team’s initiative?

Giving support is essential because it enables your sales team to be effective in perpetuity. It will also make the internal organization easier to do business with. Remove non-selling responsibilities and streamline responsibilities that can’t be delegated. Do that by:

1. Establishing defined sales operations roles to increase sales efficiency. This includes process, technology, metrics and best practices.

2. Finding a sales support team to make the organization easy to interact with. They will represent sales within the other corporate functional groups.

3. Constructing systems that automate the core business processes. This will remove the administrative burden and increase the productivity of the sales organization


Change Is In The Air

The “Future of Jobs Report,” which was created in 2015 in collaboration with the Global Agenda Council, states that, “Disruptive changes to business models will have a profound impact on the employment landscape over the coming years.” And while many of us didn’t need a fancy report to uncover this nugget, it is simultaneously comforting and discomforting to know that empirical evidence backs up the hypothesis that new types of jobs and corresponding skills will be needed over the next five years.


The drivers of change are many, and somewhat obvious. Few would dispute the facts that technological change, socio-economic variables and geopolitical events will continue to have a significant impact on our world. However, the immediacy of these changes is what seems to fall on deaf ears.


The effect of all these changes is shortening the “shelf-life of employees’ skill sets.” The functions in virtually all industries have yet to be defined, so the skills needed for future employment and overall organizational success have yet to be cultivated. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the leaders within the business community to retrain and hire a workforce with skills that may be appropriate in five years. This demands a remarkably progressive mindset, but one that will sustain the business for years to come.


As you can imagine, there are countless categories of job functions that will see massive decline. But there are a few that are identified as critically important across several industries. In particular, the idea around specialized sales representatives highlights that all of our businesses must become even more skilled in “commercializing and explaining their offerings to business or government clients or consumers, either due to the innovative technical nature of the products themselves or due to new client targets with which the company is not yet familiar, or both.”


One of the key takeaways from this important study is that marketing will never go out of style. The demand for people to persuade, build followings and communicate remains high. The way we do these things may change, but the concept that marketing is the cornerstone to good business will remain.


Consider the excerpt from the report that states, “Overall, social skills – such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others – will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment  operation, and control. In essence, technical skills will need to be supplemented with strong social and collaboration skills.”


Challenges persist in the coming years. The future work environment may seem daunting, so it is critical that business leaders become aware of the pending changes, act decisively and equip people with the necessary skills to serve.


Change is in the air, and we need to be ready.

10 Killer Reasons You Should Be Using Print

This blog is brought to you byour friends at Midland Paper.

Contrary to the heralded demise of print, it’s alive and kicking. And, according to these media experts, it’s here to stay. Many of the brands that abandoned their print products during the recession have been clambering back into the world of ink on paper. Why? Because it works. Print increases engagement, drives sales and cements relationships.

Don’t just take our word for it, in the first of a four-part series looking into the value of print, Content Magazine has spoken to these five content experts, from both the US and the UK, to find out why print is still relevant in a digital world.

Samir Husni aka Mr Magazine™
1. It opens your customer’s mind
“The most important factor, besides the feel and touch [of print], is the element of surprise. We’re trained how to find information in the digital age, but with print there’s always an element of surprise. You can be browsing through pages and encounter a great story unexpectedly. In digital we are always looking for something specific, limiting our imagination. Print opens our mind to things we never knew we were interested in, or even existed.”

2. It saves your customers time
“I had a conversation with the CEO of Imagination, one of the content marketing businesses in Chicago, who said five years ago their revenue was 55% digital, 45% print. Today it’s 55% print and 45% digital, because even their clients have recognised the importance of having something delivered through the mail box, on your table or on your desk. Consider for a moment that we live entirely in a digital world – print does not exist. Everything is on our screens, and someone comes to you and says: ‘I’ve invented this new device. I know you are interested in media, journalism and design. So I’ve searched all that we have, and put it together for you in a 68-page device that needs no computers, no charging. It’s fully loaded, you don’t need to download anything. It’s called a magazine!’ You’d look at it and say: ‘Wow! You’re saving me money, time and searching, plus you’ve done all the curation and homework for me’!”

Andrew Hirsch CEO John Brown Media
3. It increases product awareness
“We are quite old fashioned; we like our content to sell something on behalf of its client. For the ROI of print, we look at sales. Take for example the John Lewis magazine – we track the sales [of products featured in the magazine] and we can prove – using data – that the content we’ve created is driving sales – either in store or online. We sell millions of pounds’ worth of advertising in our magazines – but this just off-sets the cost of production. The real prize, for the retailers we work with, is making consumers aware of products. For example, in the Waitrose magazine, the main idea is to get the customer to put two or three new items in their shopping basket that they wouldn’t normally buy. The magazines are really about encouraging you to buy products you wouldn’t actually buy.”

4. It re-engages lapsed customers
“There is one very good use for print, better than other content delivery systems and not enough brands are using it for this purpose, that is, re-engaging lapsed customers. If you’ve ever bought from an online brand, but for whatever reason, whether it was price or quality, you’ve not bought anything from them since, you will have been sent endless digital communications from that company. What this is actually doing is pushing you further and further away from a decision to buy. Their communication has become an irritation. What brands should do, instead of bombarding customers with more and more digital communication, is send them a print product, because more often than not this re-engages the customer. Online footwear retailer, Zappos (which is not one of our clients), was experiencing a problem with re-engaging with lapsed customers. About two Christmases ago it sent their lapsed customers a print catalogue, and overnight some went on to become their best customers.”

Tony Silber Vice President, Folio
5. It gives your customers an identity
“Print does a few things really well that digital has not proven to be the equal. One of them is to develop a measure of ‘wantedness’ – where people actually want to spend money to subscribe to the magazine. It does a much better job than any digital media possibly could of reflecting an individual’s values and priorities – whether it’s professional on the B2B side or vocational on the consumer side. You might read Cosmo, The Atlantic or Hamptons Magazine and put them on your coffee table – because it says something about you in a way that digital can never replicate on your phone or on your computer.”

6. It acts as a springboard to other media
“Magazines have done this way better than newspapers. It’s tragic because newspapers have played such an important role in our society for hundreds of years. Magazines lend themselves to that 360- degree product orientation. You have a print magazine, then do a TV show, events, or any number of digital products. There are many revenue streams that you can create from a magazine brand, that have proven to be very successful. For example, Folio has a pretty robust awards business. It has a strong conference. It has a vibrant, robust website and newsletters and custom content webinars, whereas 25 years ago it was only print.”

Sean King CEO Seven
7. It offers your customers an immersive experience
“Coming from a publishing background, the team at Seven understands the power of print, of actually spending time with a high quality magazine as opposed to just spending time online, which is a much different experience. Print is a much more immersive experience than a website. When you’re on a website you’re more than likely searching for a specific thing – but in a magazine you’re exposed to a content experience that you’re not necessarily looking for, opening up an entirely new set of opportunities and discovery for the reader.”

8. It drives sales
“We did all the publishing for ASOS when we launched its magazine. We were able to prove what impact the magazine had on basket size and frequency. You can measure this stuff when people receive print magazines especially if you’re an online retailer – there’s a feedback loop when they make a sale. We publish a lot of magazines for clients, so we completely get the value of print for a brand. Traditional media is finding it harder to make money; to make the economics work. But brands can afford to do it. They can have a different view as to the value of the customer. If that customer is going to spend, say £250 a year (on the back of reading a magazine), it’s worth providing them with a magazine.”

Keith Sedlak Executive Vice President & General Manager, Manifest
9. It engages millennials, not just the older demographic, too
“Recent research has found that the younger millennials are starting to appreciate and turn to magazines in the last 18 months. I think a lot of magazines are being read by the older demographic, and they still lead the majority in terms of the readers, but I do believe that millennials are engaging with print too. Obviously they are consuming content on a mobile device, as they’ve grown up in a digital age, but they’re starting to appreciate the difference that a magazine offers. There is a shift happening – a younger generation is appreciating print more than they did three, four or five years ago.”

10. It’s a more relevant read
“I think that we’ve all become schizophrenic online readers – in that you can be reading an article that’s informative for the business that you’re in, then click on a suggested article link which takes your from to Business Week or to BuzzFeed. There’s no method to the madness. I think that’s the opportunity for print; if you know your audience, your database of customers, your content becomes more relevant, personable and customized. Those publications stand the test of time.”

Incorporating Video into Your Marketing Plan

Jimmy Boratyn

Our latest blog post comes from our friend and video expert, Jimmy Boratyn.  Jimmy is the President of Shot Time Productions and is a good friend of printForum. In this blog post, he has given great insight into what it really takes to put together a great marketing video. 

Web marketing videos have quickly grown in popularity. They have been found to be very successful, and they have a very long shelf life compared to other forms of web marketing. That said, the process for making a web marketing video can be confusing or seemingly difficult if you are not experienced in film production for your business.

Let’s start by discussing some best practices when determining the style and length for your video. So how long should your video be? Many people think that since they can use an engaging video to explain all of their services or products and introduce their team in an exciting five minute video, they should, but the truth is people on the web have a short attention span. The most successful video marketing campaigns tend to be one minute or less. That said, nothing prevents you from making multiple thirty to sixty second videos. In fact, having a library of videos for your organization can keep people on your site and give you a stronger presence on youtube or vimeo. Five sixty second videos will usually be far more effective than one five minute video. If you have a video you’ve created for your business, take a look at the analytics for the video. Generally, around 45 seconds you’ll see a steep drop in viewers. So keep it short and sweet!

As for style, this is something that you have a lot of room to be creative. What is the nature of your organization and who are you gearing your campaign toward? Comedy tends to have the best chance for coveted virality, but a serious video can be very effective when targeted to the proper audience. The key though is to learn to tell your story through images. As a filmmaker and web video marketer, I live by the old film adage, “show me don’t tell”, and this is something you should keep in mind when planning your marketing video and writing your script. For example, a carpenter meticulously working on a piece of furniture will get across the message of skill and care being put into every product much stronger than someone on screen telling us they put care into their work.

Now that we have the basics of how to tell your story, what is the process for making your video? If you decide to work with an outside company like mine for your video, I encourage you to bring them on early. They will be able to lend advice on pitfalls or tell you what aspects of your project may put you over budget. They can also be a valuable resource when determining what your message is. After this, your first step will be writing a script. Your script will be the blue print for the entire project. It doesn’t need to be very elaborate, but it should be written out in a way that anyone who reads it knows exactly what is being said and what we see. It is rare for a project to go from conception to completion with only one person involved, and the script allows the writer, who plans this out, to have the same vision as the editor, who is likely finishing the project. A more advance script can even have run times for certain shots. For example:

Sample script:

  • 0-5 second – Title screen with company logo and light flash to transition- We hear sound effect of a film reel rolling
  • 5-20 second – We see a film reel projecting a film and shots of Jimmy filming – Sound byte heard from Jimmy Boratyn about his film career.

This is very basic, but it gives you an idea of what it can be. Now anyone who picks this up knows we need an interview with Jimmy, a shot of a film reel, the brand standards for the company logo, and an animator for the light flash transition. This knowledge allows the filmmaker to know what needs to be scheduled for filming, which is the next step. Generally, it is most cost effective to film everything in one day, but things can certainly be filmed out of order or on multiple days. The important thing is to be sure everything you need is filmed up front. This requires a bit more planning depending on the style of interview you’d like to do. You can either fully script what the person is saying or go for a more natural off the cuff response. This, of course, assumes that you’ll need interviews at all. Many great marketing campaigns have no interviews at all, but I’m going to focus on interview based for now. If you’re scripting the interview, you gain the benefit of being able to rehearse or hire a professional to make it not sound like your subject is reading from a handbook. You can also tailor your script to say exactly what you want. That said, off the cuff responses can be great as they often come across more natural, but you need to pay close attention to these types of interviews to be sure everything you need is said. An editor can play with this a bit, but they cannot create something that isn’t there. 

The editing process is the longest stage in the production. I think this is where a lot of people get discouraged, but think about it this way, an editor is going to take, in some cases, several hours of footage, and cut that down to the best possible sixty seconds. In that time they will also be adjusting audio levels, enhancing color, cutting out any “ums” or stumbles to make the video the best it can be. Every editor works differently, so this is something I can only speak to my company’s style on, but generally, the editor will take your script and begin finding the best possible version of the various elements in the script. Once they do that, you’ll generally be sent a rough draft. This draft is going to have some flaws, and it may not even have music or sound effects, and it most certainly will not have any color enhancement done as that is a long process that is done when the video is, as we call it, “picture locked”. This stage is where you should be very honest with your editor. If you don’t like the delivery of a line, you think the music or sound effect is too loud, or you think the whole concept of the video needs to be tweaked, then express that. The best way to do this is to give them what is called time codes. If you’re watching the video on vimeo, and you see an issue, pause it, look how far you are in the video, and write it down. For example:

  • At 32 second, Jimmy scratches his cheek, and I think it looks funny.

This will help the editor be more efficient with edits, let you know possible ways of fixing the edit, and keep you on track for your budget. In many cases you’ll also have a director or producer, like me, who will be the go to person to speak with. So you’d send these notes to me, I’d discuss with the editor, and let you know if we can fix it, or if we need to reshoot something. Once all of your edits have been made, and you are satisfied with the video’s story and pacing, it goes into finishing. This is where color is enhanced, title bars may be added if needed, and the video will be exported to an optimized format based on how you’ll use it. Once this is done, it’s time to launch the video!

This is where most people get thrown off track with their web marketing videos. The video can’t simply be dropped on youtube or vimeo and expected to reach an audience. There are many ways to help make your video successful for your campaign. You can use it in an email blast, embed it on your website, upload it to Facebook (Facebook is unique in that if you upload directly to Facebook your video will auto play once scrolled over. A huge bonus to posting a URL), and even use it as a giveaway. If you’re giving out flash drives at an event load your video onto it. Similarly, you can pay to promote the video on many sites. Facebook can be used to promote for a little as $10, and you can even pay for youtube ad time, where your video will play before select videos. This allows for a greater reach of your message. 

Knowing these steps will help you create a stronger web marketing video and also help you stay within budget when hiring a team to create your video.

Standing Out Amongst the Competition

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

In any form of business there is always competition. Whether it’s in the gourmet pretzel business (Auntie Anne’s vs. Wetzel Pretzel), Sports (Da Bears vs. Packers), or anything else there is always competition. The key to being different from your competitors or standing out in the consumer’s eyes is simple. Do something that makes you different and benefits your customers that your competitors aren’t doing. At Rider Dickerson there are a few key ways we stand out from our competition and add distinct value. The following are 3 ways you or your brand can stand out and make a difference and cut through the clutter of competition.



In the printing business, there are many print shops that do an extraordinary job at printing materials and getting the marketing message out to the target audience. At Rider Dickerson we understand that it takes more than printing a beautiful piece to obtain loyal customers. One thing that we strive to do is to create meaningful relationships with our customers and really get to know their strategy and needs. We are not the typical print shop that you send your specs to and get your product back without speaking to anyone in between that time. There are times that our Account Executives meet with clients three, four, or even five times just planning and talking about what they are trying to achieve even before any project has been discussed or a job is ready to print. In addition, when it comes to our Customer Service Representatives they are second to none! These individuals work closely with our clients; having multiple emails and calls to make sure their job is created the way they expect and that everything runs smoothly. Some of the individuals at Rider Dickerson really do go above and beyond what they need to on a job. There have been times that our clients have sent in a job and we could have printed it the way they presented it in the specs and sent it out but that is not the Rider Dickerson way. There are multiple times that our team has looked at a project and taken the time to speak with a client and show them a better, more efficient way to complete their project. This is just one example of how our team stands out amongst the competition.  We care and we show it all the time!


Another key way that Rider Dickerson stands out amongst its competition is through education. We are extremely proud of our educational brand, printForum. printForum was originally created when there was a void in the print community and many individuals were looking for someone or something to help them expand their knowledge on print, marketing, the latest trends, and so much more. Rider Dickerson stepped up and created a year-round educational platform for our community–specifically for those who had the desire to learn. We knew that in order for printForum to be successful we needed to constantly be providing educational information. To do this, printForum offers information through many channels. We have a bi-monthly magazine, monthly e-newsletter, social media, printForum website, blog, webinars, and our annual printForum conference.  Throughout these channels we are able to provide information all year long. We are constantly serving our community and adding value through printForum, and this cements long term relationships and definitely helps differentiate us from our competitors.

Customer Service

In a market that is extremely competitive companies need something else to differentiate them other than just price.  One aspect of the business that we pride ourselves on is customer service. Like many companies we say, “the customer comes first.” The difference is that when we say that we mean it and follow through.  From doing press oks at 3am to driving proofs downtown to our customer’s apartment in the city on a Saturday morning to make sure everything looks perfect, we will do anything to make sure our customers are happy.  Our job is to make our customers’ lives easier and always add value.  If we can’t do those things we shouldn’t be in business.  If you are like me you have had your fair share of bad customer service experiences.  Because of these bad experiences the good customer service experience is something people do not take for granted. It helps create loyal customers who will buy from you repeatedly and refer you to others.  But it’s not just the typical customer service that we provide.  We take the time to get to know our clients personally and form meaningful connections with them.  Our client relationships and friendships are built on trust, honesty and empathy.  We connect with our clients beyond the transaction of doing business together.  In turn, our relationships with our clients are mutually beneficial and valuable.

Hopefully these tips we use to stand out amongst our competition will spark ideas to help you do the same. We’d love to hear how you stand out.  Please comment and share your thoughts with us.


3 Reasons You Should Always Give Your Printer Visuals with Your Print Specs

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

We’ve all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, right? Well, when it comes to submitting specs to your printer for an estimate, a picture could be worth a thousand dollars—by that I mean saving you that thousand dollars or more! Let me explain.

When you send specs to your printer and ask for an estimate, my guess is you are expecting an estimate that you can count on being accurate and that you will hold your printer to that estimate assuming you change nothing on your end. It may be a project for you if you are an end user or it could be for your client if you are an agency. Either way, experience tells me that you want that estimate to be a binding contract for the project. I’m here to say I agree with you, but only if 2 criteria are met: the specs don’t change after the original estimate and you supplied visuals with the estimate.

When I refer to a visual I simply mean a working PDF to show the layout, ink coverage and page count (if it’s a multiple page brochure). This PDF doesn’t have to be the final document in terms of the copy, but it should be accurate for the 3 elements I just referenced. Now, here’s why these 3 elements are important and can save you that thousand (or thousands) dollar mistake!

  1. Layout
  • When you supply the basic layout your printer can gauge if there are crossovers (which could affect the binding). If you don’t know what a crossover is it’s when an image crosses over the binding gutter from one page to the next in a spread.
  • If you have a lot of body type that is built in 4C process your printer should be wise enough to caution you against this. This can pose major registration issues on press. That type should be printed as black or a 5th color if you want a grey type or something other than black. That adds more money for the 5th color—see below for more on that.
  • If you have page numbers, other type or images too close to the edge of the page your printer can advise you to move those elements in a bit so they don’t get trimmed off due to standard bindery creep.
  1. Ink Coverage
  • Here’s where the big cost factors come into play. When you spec 4C process and you have tons of saturation and large areas of heavy coverage of a particular color that could be a problem—especially if that color is a corporate brand color. For better quality that color should print as a spot color so it can be controlled independently of the other 4 colors on press. This is more expensive (more plates, make ready time and ink) but in the end it will allow your printer to produce a higher quality brochure.
  • Maybe you requested a dull coated or silk sheet and your specs are 4C process but no protective coating. If there is anything above light ink coverage you really should request an overall satin aqueous coating to seal those inks and prevent scuffing. If you fail to supply visuals and don’t spec aqueous, your printer would be well within their right to have a conversation about charging you for the aqueous before they move into production. Depending on your relationship with your printer, maybe you can work out a fair solution to this.
  • Ink coverage can also play a factor into the paper selection. For example, maybe you are requesting a nice textured sheet with lots of tooth but you have ink from corner to corner on every page. This may not be the best use of that textured paper, and you may not get the type of ink laydown you were expecting. By supplying the visuals to your printer you can have this conversation and make sure you are both on the same page about expectations for the final look and feel of the piece.
  1. Page Count
  • Do I really have to say much here? If you spec a 16 page brochure and it’s actually 16 pages plus a 4p cover that’s a big problem come production time. Depending on the quantity of the piece that could be several thousand dollars of a discrepancy and could put you and your printer in a really tough spot. Supplying the PDF in the estimating phase allows your printer to confirm the page count and discuss any differences between what your specs say and what your file actually shows.

So, do yourself and your printer both a favor and always supply visuals with your print specs. If you can’t because no visuals exist yet then please come to an agreement with your printer that the estimate is only for initial budget purposes and that the printer can provide a final estimate upon reviewing the art. This will prevent ugly misunderstandings and keep you and your printer in a happy place and ultimately ensure your final printed piece turns out just as you envisioned in the concept phase.




The Power of a Card

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

This blog post was originally written and published on LinkedIn by Dean Petrulakis last year.  However, the message still resonates.  The power of print shouldn’t be underestimated.  The emotional connection print can forge is undeniable.  Read on to learn why.

card for blog It was my birthday the other day, and I was so happy to receive so many kind wishes via text, email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and even WhatsApp.  I’m blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life—be it family, friends or clients.  I was truly humbled by all the birthday wishes.

However, it was the 2 wishes I received in the mail that touched me the most.  One was from my mom.  What would you expect from your mother? I love my mom to death, and she sends me a card every year on my birthday.  Her card touched my heart in a way only a birthday wish from mom can.  The other was from a good client and friend of mine.  She sends me a card every year on my birthday.  She’s been doing this for at least 5 years and maybe longer.  If she’s reading this she knows who she is.  She also sent me wishes via Facebook and text.  Talk about multi channel birthday wishes—that’s it right there!

Now for the sake of clarity (and my marriage!) I should also point out I did get wonderful cards from my wife and children, but I’m specifically referring to the 2 cards I got in the mail.  Maria, if you read this at some point I’ve covered my tracks now 🙂

But seriously, I’m not saying one bad thing about anyone who reached out to me electronically. I do it all the time. Like I said, I was honored to receive so many kind wishes. But the birthday cards had a different kind of effect on me.  Maybe it was the fact that I love print and the emotional reaction it can create. Maybe it was because my mom and client took the time to buy the card, write a handwritten note, address the envelope, seal it, affix a stamp and mail it.  Seems like a lot of effort, right?  But that’s what we did before email, texting, messaging apps and social media.  Maybe it was the smell of the card when I pulled it out of the envelope?  Yes, I’m a print sniffer—I confess!

I’ve tweeted countless times about the power of the handwritten note.  I write them all the time and send them to clients for a variety of reasons.  I love it when I receive a handwritten note as well.  There’s something about ink on paper that makes that note connect with the recipient in a visceral way.  It also takes effort to do it, and I know I appreciate that.  I believe most people do as well.  So the next time you want to make a lasting impression on someone, think about sending a card.  Bust out that pen that doesn’t see the light of day much these days and write a heartfelt note.  You never know the effect it might have on the other person.


It’s all new, and it’s fold-tastic!

Trish Witkowski expands with folded samples, dielines and printed comps.

If you haven’t been to in a while, you’re going to want to make some time to check it out. Big things are happening at the company known for sharing creative folded formats on the popular e-video series “60-Second Super-Cool Fold of the Week.”

It’s been a big year for foldfactory—hitting a million views on YouTube, celebrating 300 episodes of “Fold of the Week,” and reinventing the business to meet the needs of their growing (and rabid) fan base.

“Over the years, we have received countless requests to help customers, not just with ideas and advice, but also with requests for dielines and samples,” states Trish Witkowski, founder of Foldfactory. “It was always so frustrating to tell people that we couldn’t help. However, we also knew that transforming the business into a real “folding factory” was going to be a gigantic leap that we couldn’t ease our way into. If we were going to do it, it would be all or nothing.”

Advancements in digital printing and finishing have made it possible to create many of the amazing formats that have been featured at Foldfactory over the years—and Foldfactory plans to get those formats out to the world as quickly as possible. With an aggressive plan to add new formats every week, Foldfactory launched in September with 24 “Super-Cool Folds™.” In October, they began releasing four new formats per month, setting an ambitious pace of 48 new formats per year. As of mid-November 2015, they already have 41 creative formats, including the Twist Fold, the Tulip Fold, the Circular Accordion, the 9-Panel Reveal, and much more. They will also periodically release special collections, including the recent Holiday Collection of 10 creative folded holiday card formats, presented by some very special holiday guests. Click here to see the Foldfactory Holiday Collection:

The site is designed to show off the creativity of the formats in an interactive way. Each format is in a bright 2-tone color scheme and features “magic hands” that appear to fold and unfold as you roll over them. Visitors can scroll down to download a dieline and order a blank folded sample. Then, upload your layout to order a digitally printed and laser-cut comp of your design.

Also new this Fall is a new membership program called “Fold Club.” This free subscription gives members unlimited access to Foldfactory’s award-winning (and addictive) FOLDRite template-building service – a service that, until now, has always been a paid subscription. Plus, members will get the inside track on new format releases and will receive the “ Fold of the Week” in their inbox every Thursday. Join now:

To learn more about Foldfactory, please visit the website:

Direct Mail To The Max


Last week, Rider Dickerson partnered with our friend and direct marketing guru, Trish Witkowski, of to host a FREE,  invite only direct mail workshop; Direct Mail to the Max!  Our lucky attendees were intrigued to learn about the process of creating direct mail that performs and creates engagement.  Since the workshop was limited to a select group of individuals, attendees were able to have one-on-one conversations with Trish about their marketing plans and direct mail efforts!

DMM image

Throughout the workshop, attendees learned about the engagement strategies that work, the trends that are hot now and ways to improve their direct mail strategies. We covered trends including ugly versus beautiful mail, lumpy mail, freemiums and premiums, lift letters and bounce backs, creative envelopes and opening mechanisms, stamps and addressing techniques, paper, formats and image tricks, the human touch, party on the back, and lots of other intriguing concepts.

DMM image 2

To round out the workshop, Trish dug into her treasure trove of direct mail samples and case studies and shared insight on what pieces worked, why they worked as well as those that missed the mark.  We saw samples that used high impact tips and techniques that will get more bang for the mailing buck on any budget.

DMM image 3

Our attendees walked away with so much valuable information to implement into their marketing plans. If you missed the workshop we have included Trish’s 10 High Impact Tricks for Engaging Direct Mail! To learn more about this awesome educational workshop that Rider Dickerson put on and how to attend our next one, please contact your Rider Dickerson Account Executive.


Stand-Up vs. Sitting At Work

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

This past year, one of Rider Dickerson’s own, Vice President of Retail Solutions, Chris Bostrom decided to try out the whole sitting vs standing at your desk. Before committing to a totally new regime, Chris built his own stand-up desk from boxes we had at Rider just to make sure that he would be able to work at a stand-up desk.  Much to his delight, Chris enjoyed his new stand- up desk and ordered one that wasn’t made out of cardboard boxes.   After over six months, Chris is still enjoying his new desk and even said he felt more productive throughout the day. “I wish I had converted to a stand up desk years earlier. It’s part of the way I work now as much as email or those cool large paperclips. If I start to sit too long, my brain makes me stand up long before my Apple Watch ever prompts me to do the same.”

standupdesk 2

After Chris began using his stand-up desk I decided to do some research on what some of the benefits were of standing vs. sitting at work.  While it is widely known that sitting for long periods of time are unhealthy, I wanted to see just how much healthier standing really was.  Studies have been done on this topic quite a bit in the last year. One study showed that the body is supposed to change position or move from your chair every 20 minutes. This movement helps your body to recharge and avoid common sedentary job effects.  Gretchen Reynolds, a reporter for The New York Times, recently studied the health benefits of standing up every 20 minutes for 2-3 minutes and this is what she found:

New science shows very persuasively that standing up about every 20 minutes, even for only a minute or two, reduces your risks of developing diabetes and heart disease.

By standing up, you cause the big muscles in your legs and back to contract, which leads to an increase in certain enzymes that break up fat in the blood stream. You don’t have to jog in place or do jumping jacks. Just stand. A very pleasant additional benefit is that standing up every 20 to 30 minutes also seems to prompt the body to burn calories, so you don’t gain as much weight from sitting at the office most of the day.  If you can stand up every 20 minutes — even if you do nothing else — you change how your body responds physiologically.


Many other studies showed these health benefits as well.  So now I wanted to see if utilizing a stand-up desk was worth it for eight hours a day or if just standing up every 20 minutes was good enough. Some of the side-effects that come with sitting at your desk all day were headaches, posture issues, low productivity (your muscles, including your brain not moving and falling asleep), as well as weight gain. For the health-conscious person, these side effects would be enough to look into the stand-up desk.


Much of the research I found followed suit and confirmed that using a stand-up desk – if the same person were to use a stand- up desk for one day they would burn 20% more calories than what they would on a typical day that they sat at their original desk.  These health benefits are not directly due to just standing-up alone, but because your body is already standing rather than sitting you are more likely to have more movement.  The absolute key to the stand-up desk is movement.  While standing up alone is better than sitting all day, to achieve the maximum health benefits and be the most productive it is important to move your body, change your position, take a walk or do something different than you were in the last 20 minutes.  While I do not know if the stand-up desk is for everyone, the health benefits really give you something to think about while you are sitting at your desk for the next eight hours.  🙂


Can a Paper Tube Company Win Over the Millennials?

Trish Witkowski 

In my last blog post, I highlighted TOMS Shoes, who happened to be doing an impressive job of marketing to Millennials. However, the point I made at the end of the post was that it’s easy to engage Millennials when you have a sexy product in the B2C space. Sure, there’s competition everywhere, and it takes vision and creativity, blah, blah, blah. I’m not trying to discount the amazing job they’ve done. What I’m saying is, what happens when you’re in the B2B space? How do these Millennial marketing techniques apply? Do they apply at all, or do the rules change in B2B?


First things first, companies in the B2B space often can’t benefit as greatly from social media. Let’s take this company, Yazoo Paper Tubes & Cores, a leading privately-owned manufacturer of high quality paper tubes and cores. I discovered them through a direct mail postcard that was sent to me by someone who was within their target customer demographic.



I remember thinking – “Wow, these guys have to market, too. How do they do it??”

All I could imagine was:


User-generated content: “Join our community! Take a picture of yourself with your favorite rolled-paper product and tag it #PaperTubeNation”


Facebook: “Get up-to-the-minute paper tube news – Like us on Facebook!”


Twitter: #tbt Check out our first paper tube production line from 1902!

Retweet, anyone . . . anyone?


Pinterest: Pinterest paper tube crafts for kids!


Obviously, the samples above are meant to be humorous rather than mocking in nature, and to prove the point that businesses often have an uphill battle ahead of them when they’re trying to engage with Millennials in the social space.


To Yazoo’s credit, they have the obligatory Facebook ( and Twitter ( accounts with a few hundred likes and followers, and they post professional-quality content in these channels and on their blog, which they contribute to on a regular basis. They have a very nice LinkedIn presence, too. (


So, in B2B, if social media is obligatory, but not really a place to generate a lot of momentum, where should businesses focus their efforts? Mobile friendliness, my people. Millennials have a mobile-first mentality. So, if you do not have a mobile-friendly web site, this is your absolute first order of business. Seriously. Stop what you’re doing and turn all of your attention to creating a great mobile experience NOW. Make it fast, easy, uncluttered and interactive, if possible.


I’ll admit I had low expectations for Yazoo. How cool could their Web site be, anyway? I was almost certain that they’d be behind in the mobile-friendliness category as well. It’s paper tubes, after all.


Well, guess what? I was pleasantly surprised with what I found! Yazoo has a clean, bright and updated Web site that looks welcoming and current and organized ( They embed a video on the home page as well – an important detail. Millennials love video. As you can see, they also prominently display easy order buttons as focal points on the home page. In an IBM study, 1 Millennials in the B2B space indicated that their most preferred attribute in a company is ease of doing business with them.



Look them up on your phone and they are mobile-friendly, too. It’s nothing fancy, but it works. My one suggestion to them would be to add videos to their mobile site.



They have a brag-worthy recycling program as well, but they’re very quiet about it. I would suggest making a bigger environmental statement on the home page and mobile versions. Millennials are extremely eco-conscious.


Interesting stuff, right? Well, there’s a lot more to learn—I’m just getting warmed up. So, I guess you’ll have to join me on June 4th at the printForum Conference. I’ll see you there!


Register today to reserve your seat!  Visit


Millennials Love Mail (Done Right)

Trish Witkowski


In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’m actively studying the Millennial generation, and how to market to them. In doing so, I’ve learned some interesting things. To catch you up to speed, here are a few critical findings:


Millennials actually like print and mail communications; they prefer to read from a printed page over reading from a screen; they like companies that care about the world and its inhabitants; they share socially; they love technology; they appreciate authenticity and personalized marketing experiences; they like to participate in the brand experience; they’re suspicious of the sales pitch; and they value the opinions of others in their marketing decisions.


Now, these are all interesting clues that become tools that we can use in how we communicate with this generation, but if you read that list and think about what you’re sending out, does anything you’re sending actually align with it? These days, as I’m looking at everything from the perspective of  “What would a Millennial think of this?” I’m realizing that there are some companies that are not just checking off the items on the list—they’re checking them off like a Boss.


Here’s an example of a company that is really doing it right. The TOMS Shoes catalog is called “Journal vol. 3: This is Haiti”

toms 3


The catalog follows a group of TOMS employees and friends, and they look like they could be your friends (if you’re not over 35). And, yes, they’re wearing TOMS. Always. And as you might expect, there are pages filled with shoes and accessories throughout, but the merchandise becomes secondary or even tertiary to the subject matter.


The catalog is in the “magalog” format, which is a hybrid catalog/magazine mail product. It tells stories of their travels, of the people they met, and gives voices and names (and Twitter handles!) to the group of travelers. However the strongest theme in the catalog is the many ways TOMS is making a difference in the world. Collectively, the message becomes clear that through the support of the TOMS brand, you can make a difference, too.

 toms 2

TOMS has a “One for One” program, where if you buy one of their bags, you can help save a baby’s life through the company’s donation to the Every Mother Counts foundation. TOMS partners with the World Wildlife Fund to save Rhinos. Buying TOMS coffee ensures that water will be available in regions that produce it. They create jobs (creating shoes) in Haiti and they also donate shoes in Haiti. Buy the shoes to support the people who work hard to make them. It goes on and on, but none of it feels insincere. It’s authentic. I’ll admit that by the end of the catalog, I was looking for a reason to buy something—anything. I spent a lot of time with that catalog, and I liked the company when I was done.


TOMS also invites their customers to take photos of themselves creating a better tomorrow, and to upload them on one of many different social platforms with a chance to be featured in a future catalog. You guessed it, they’re building a community and supporting the growth of user-generated content. They have a rewards program, too, which is also a valued benefit.


It’s marketing, but it’s socially conscious, and shareable, and inclusive, and subtle, and pure, unadulterated marketing genius. That catalog is everything Millennials are looking for these days. Oh, and they make quality, stylish products, too. However that part is a given, because there’s no room for mediocrity.


It is important to note that the B2C space is certainly much different than B2B. Not to take anything away from TOMS, but one could argue that it’s easy to get people engaged when you have a sexy consumer product that (young) people like to wear or use. So, the question is, how can businesses in the B2B space engage Millennial customers by translating some of these powerful techniques into marketing strategies that work for them? I guess you’ll have to read my next blog to find out . . .

Marketers, Meet the Millennials

Trish Witkowski


They’re like exotic birds, the Millennials. We study their habits, and try to figure out how they communicate with each other, and what they like to do, eat and buy. As marketers, we’re obsessed with them—this generation of young people who quite possibly have never used a phone with a cord attached to it, and who may have no idea what life was like before the internet.


The truth is, we have to study them. They’re a force to be reckoned with at 87 million strong in the U.S. To put that into perspective for you, there are 76 million baby boomers. I know—hard to imagine.


So, Who Are They, Really?

Unlike other generations, there is no definitive start or end date for the millennials, however the generally accepted definition of a millennial is someone who was born between 1982 and 2004 (give or take). So, basically, people who are in the roughly 11-33 year age bracket today.


Millennials, also called Gen Y, are different than any other generation to date. They’re elusive and hard to reach through traditional marketing channels, because they’re suspicious of marketing tactics. They can smell a marketing pitch from a mile away and they’ll tune it out completely.


Millennials grew up on social media, and they rely on the opinions of their peers and the input of others when they’re making a decision. One of the benefits of this is that they are also willing to share and promote the things they like on social media—in fact, a study by Edelman determined that 90% of millennials will share their brand preferences online. However, in exchange, they expect to be able to communicate with companies, to be heard and acknowledged, and to be able to participate in product development and the brand experience. They also love reward programs. 60% of millennials are willing to switch brands if it means getting more benefits.


Millennials are deeply interested in social responsibility, and lean toward companies that support the issues they care about. Over 85% of millennials correlate their purchasing decisions (and their willingness to recommend a brand to others) to the responsible efforts a company is making (SquareSpace). Millennials appreciate and search out authenticity in a brand, which leads to their trust and loyalty as a customer.


Not surprisingly, millennials are tech-savvy, too. They have their cell phones with them 24/7 and use them to shop, compare and evaluate their options. In fact, 65% of millennials have abandoned an in-store purchase due to information found on their smartphone while shopping (eMarketer). On the flip side, in study after study, millennials have shown a strong preference for printed materials. In a digital world, to millennials, print is personal and special and is free of distraction. They like to receive print and move on to investigate further through the use of technology.


The Challenge

The challenge, of course, is to take all of these data points and preferences and turn them into powerful strategies that can lead to sales within this demographic. I’m addressing this topic in 2015 through printForum and the printForum conference in June. The theme this year is “Marketing to Millennials,” so, watch for more blog postings and promotions as we continue the conversation and build up to the conference. I hope to see you there.



Print Infinity! A Short Introduction to InterActive Print

Cindy Walas

Walas Younger Ltd


This blog post is brought to you from our friend and Augmented Reality Expert, Cindy Walas.


We’re hearing more and more buzz these days about Augmented Reality – for magazines, catalogs, books, maps, guidebooks, brochures, packaging, signage – and all of its potential for the future.


What is AR really?

The Oxford dictionary defines “augmented reality” as:

A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.”


The current Marketing definition is:

A technology that increases the passive content of (print) media by connecting to interactive digital content through a smart device.”


For print:

Augmented Reality is cutting-edge technology that connects the print and the digital world.”


It is an easy, interactive way to engage your audience. And great content is the key to great customer engagement.


So what kind of content?

Kevin Keane, a social media guru, attorney and marketing consultant for companies ranging from cyber security to packaging to the new #printprotagonist start up for #interactiveprint, recently posted these goals for any good AR in a LinkedIn group:


Good AR Should: 1) Bring print to life; 2) Add value to print; 3) Involve M-commerce (mobile commerce); 4) Offer a deeper dive of engagement with the product and service offerings from the client’s enterprise;  5) offer social sharing integration; 6) Offer gamification, as it is a proven way to develop “stickiness” with customers – sweepstakes, contests, surveys and even puzzles cause folks to stick around, and 7) Offer analytics. “Seven splendid layers of discovery”


It’s not just about special effects that you see so often, either. Think more about adding expanded material to textbooks, technical information to catalogs, how-to videos for recipes, storefronts to magazines and catalogs…the possibilities are infinite. Print Infinity!


AR creates the perfect bridge between the print and digital worlds. Tony Calo of StampaSud/Stampatech in Italy, is starting to lean towards “interactive print”, instead of augmented reality. He has a point, as it zeros in on “print” as the medium.


Walas Younger Ltd has partnered with Stampatech (via StampaSud SPA in Britain and Italy) to produce a number of AR projects. Working with Tony Calo, Stampatech project director, we recently completed two terrific magazine projects with 10+ pages of AR-enhancement, and collaborated on AR development for several other clients.


Europa In Canto: A Children’s Opera Music Course Book


To involve students with samples of music and obtain data related this interaction. To see AR in-action yourself please click on the Europa In Canto image for a scannable, enhanced version. Download the Stampatech app, scan and enjoy the AR experience.


We: Built an area where students were encouraged to scan with the Stampatech AR app and download extra content – sheet music, videos and audio music samples. To do this, clients would apply for this information via email, which created an email database of subscribers at the same time.

Results: More than 1200 downloads and email addresses were created within a  three-month period. The publisher gained a geographic map of how and where downloads were effected, generating a “success picture” of the areas of the country where major interest in the courses was building.


“Who’s Hungry?” Food Magazine

stampa bbq

Brief: “Who’s Hungry?” is a leading food photography magazine. The client wanted to add information to the print issues that mated the links and added information that was available via the digital edition. The magazine also wanted to use it as an avenue for client sponsorship, links and promo information, without having to add advertising space to the magazine.

We: Built digital pages that linked to specific article images. Readers could see additional articles/blogs, links to restaurant information, recipe pages and other features. Future issues will include paid sponsor links and features in lieu of advertising space.



EuroStampa SPA

To interact with the image please download the Stampatech App.

We: Have partnered with EuroStampa, one of the world’s largest label printing organization, to add value to its print as part of an innovative solutions for its labels. Working together, we have devised a specific label product called “LabelActive”, where Stampatech offers clients the chance to scan and download supplemental product information, create client profile databases, demonstrate origins and check authenticity.

Results: EuroStampa was so pleased with it that they immediately added a demo area for the program at the LuxePack luxury show in Monaco. During the three days of the show, more than 200 demos were made, with inquiries from four continents.


AR (#interactiveprint) engages and empowers, and will help you combine your separate marketing channels under one umbrella – Print!. It allows you to go beyond the printed page, to be able to engage with client/customers in a way that is only limited by the imagination.

Truly “Print Infinity!”



Here’s a neat little video (1 minute) that demos the “Stampatech” AR platform. It really shows the power (and the magic) of #interactive print.


Cindy Walas is Principal of Walas Younger Ltd, an Integrated Media Solutions company located in the Chicago environs.


Antony Calo is Stampatech Project Director. Stampatech is the InterActive Print system created by StampaSud, UK and Italy.


Kevin Keane is a writer, blogger, speaker and commentator in the global graphics arts community.



“What Happened to Helping First?”

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

I was speaking with my doctor recently, a man for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect.  He referred me to see a specialist about some allergies I’ve been struggling with.  When I told him this specialist had a policy that required patients to pay upfront and then get reimbursed by insurance after the fact he chafed!  He said “whatever happened to helping people 1st and taking care of the payment after the fact?”

Granted the healthcare industry has changed dramatically in recent years, and my doctor is what you would consider a veteran.  His ideals and views on patient treatment are to be commended.  He’s all about getting the patient well and worrying about the money later.  He built is practice on this philosophy, and I’m sure he’s received countless referrals over the years not only for his amazing medical abilities but for the compassion and empathy he shows for his patients.

It got me thinking about my favorite book again, “The Go Giver” Specifically, it got me thinking about the very 1st Law of Stratospheric Success—“The Law of Value.”  This law states “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”

I try to live by this law every day—in business and in my personal dealings.  But if we strictly focus this law on business, it’s quite simple: give more than you take from your clients.  Do you hold your clients to the number on every proposal and start drafting change orders the second you go over your budgeted amount of time on the project?  Or do you wow them and give more than what they expected?  Do you make it a point to blow your clients away with service that makes them compare every experience  with their other service providers to you?

It sounds cliché, but exceeding the client’s expectations will never go out of style.  It’s a surefire way to cement a long term relationship built on trust, empathy and mutual respect.  The client knows you have their best interests at heart, and when you give that extra bit of yourself and rock the client’s world you send the message that their long term business and loyalty is worth more to you than an alteration fee or change order and a quick profit now!

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying you should bankrupt your business and give away all of your services or never charge extra for something.  I’m simply stating that good enough should never be enough.  Give more in value than you take in payment.  Earn loyal customers, not satisfied customers.  It’s not hard to do.  It really isn’t!

So what’s your take on “The Law of Value?”  I’d love to know!


Marketing for the 2014 Holiday Shopping Season

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

With the busiest holiday shopping season right around the corner, we are eager to see what retailers and marketers have up their sleeves to get customers in the door. Much has changed in holiday shopping in the last ten years. Gone are the days of waiting for the huge Sears catalog to arrive at your house and picking out the toys you want for Christmas.  In today’s world, holiday shopping begins earlier each year with commercials, emails, pop-ups, printed advertisements, etc.  Marketers today will do anything that will grab your attention and get you in the door and buy their merchandise. We thought it would be a fun way to get you in the holiday spirit if we gave you a sneak peak on what to expect this holiday shopping season.

One of the marketing channels that will be used more than any year before will be social media.  According to marketing professionals, 62% of marketers plan on using social media as their main platform for attracting customers. Creating brand awareness, extending brand reach and driving sales are the primary goals of every marketer coming into the holiday shopping season.  Social media lends itself to reach a number of age groups and demographics.  When trying to sell products and create  a buzz about your company social media is a great medium to use.

Another medium that is always used is email.  Just this past week some of the major black Friday ads were leaked online and emails with the link to the ad.  In conjunction to using email advertisements many large stores and companies stay true to the first form of medium, our personal favorite, print!  Just this week I have received three of the major store’s printed ads in the mail.  I did receive the emailed version a day before and then when the printed version arrived I grabbed it right away to flip through.

One of the other mediums that will be used heavily in the 2014 holiday shopping season is mobile.  It’s no secret that everyone is attached to their phone – because of this marketers have capitalized on this medium to get shoppers in the store.  One way that marketers are making sure to stay top of mind is sending out text messages with links to coupons for black Friday.  In addition, there have been dozens of QR Codes scattered throughout print ads as well as in the store. And maybe not this year, but don’t be surprised next year if Augmented Reality explodes during the holiday season.

This holiday season, marketers have been diligently using cross media marketing to get their message out to consumers. The average consumer is available on 7.2 channels. Knowing this, big retailers need to put their message on multiple channels to reach their target consumers.  I’m sure everyone has received the Target printed ad in the mail, multiple emails, ads on social media, banner ads, etc. By using the multiple forms of media together they are more likely to make an impact and have consumers take action.

With less than 2 weeks to go until insane shopping at 6pm during Thanksgiving dinner… I mean, the kick off to the most wonderful time of the year,J I am excited to see all of the channels that are used this holiday season to get shoppers in the store. Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving  and enjoy the holiday shopping season!


Using Video in Your Marketing Efforts

This blog post is brought to you by our friend and printForum supporter, Jimmy Boratyn, President and Founder of Shot Time Productions Inc. Jimmy has expert knowledge and experience  working with video marketing, including doing lots of great work with Loyola University Chicago.


Marketing videos are finally cool. This wasn’t always the case. We live in an age when video is no longer the costly and time-consuming venture it once was. The Internet has created a way to make instant gratification and genius marketing strategies available at the press of a virtual button. Currently, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and the new visual medium gives companies hundreds of ways to utilize unique videos as their new platforms to brand and market their products.


Marketing videos allow us to share ideas and products in ways that were just not possible before the advent of the Internet. The first point I’ll address is hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo. With millions of people searching the web for endless bits of information and entertainment, adding your message to one of them (which is free) enhances your visibility. These types of video hosting sites even allow you to build a full page around your video so you can post links to your Facebook and Twitter sites as well as add messages about your brand and mission. Everything is connected, which means while people can access your social media from your hosted video site, you can also embed those videos on Facebook and company websites. Your client has direct access to you and your media.


Other options for sharing your video are email campaigns, websites, and digital handouts such as personalized flash drives with your branding on them. Using videos as part of your social media campaigns can add a level of excitement to your page.  According to studies, an average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. Sixty percent of consumers will spend at least 2 minutes watching a video that educates them on a product they plan to purchase. As the marketer, you also gain the advantage of putting a face to your product, which allows people to connect with your campaign on a deeper level. Some sites like Vine even allow for what is referred to as “micro-videos” to spread messages like viral wildfire. These 6-second videos are short, but they gain a large amount of attention if done well. If anyone hasn’t seen it, Michelle Obama’s Turnip for What vine (for her healthy eating campaign) is a perfect example of this. Here’s the link:


We as consumers and sellers and general Internet users are always striving for interconnectedness. When we find something we like, especially a video, we continue to revisit it. We show it to friends and family, and enjoy it over and over again. And if that video is posted on your hosting site with a link to your website, the video will stay there for as long as you want it to. Currently, videos have about a 4 year lifespan. In web terms, this is an eternity, since the average Facebook post will hold attention for about 3 hours. Not to worry, however, you can reuse the video in different ways! By putting together an email campaign, you can embed the same video again, or you can make a whole new video with a targeted message for that campaign.


Websites are also a place where these videos can be featured heavily. Whether you showcase them on your home page or in a designated video tab, these videos add a level of quality to your site. They allow you to educate and inform your audience. Consumers are smart. They’re well researched, and they seek out information before they purchase anything. If they are coming to your site to learn about a product, they will be more likely captivated and intrigued with a quality video. 


Lastly, I mentioned digital handouts, and this is a new, interesting trend. Advancements in technology mean more and more computers don’t actually have DVD drives, and many people are adapting-turning to streaming for television and movies. A short video can easily fit on a good flash drive (branded to suit you specifically) and be handed out at events as promotional giveaway preloaded with YOUR marketing video.


Recently, I heard someone mention that everyone is striving for a strong social media presence, which is incredibly important. What is also important, however, is that today we’re at the point where video is the new necessity for a company. A video’s versatility, shelf life, and the simple fact of being much more cost effective than they once were, all point toward the fact that in the near future, videos will be as indispensible as Facebook, Twitter, and other social media endeavors are to a company’s marketing and branding success.


Jimmy Boratyn

President and Founder

Shot Time Productions Inc.

Today’s Marketers – Getting to Sales Ready

Joseph Manos

Executive Vice President

MindFire Inc.


What if there was one area of opportunity for your marketing organization that would fundamentally shift your sales revenue results and drive more marketing ROI for each dollar invested in your marketing programs?

Well believe it or not, there is an area of opportunity that will significantly improve your results and lead to a higher return on marketing investment spent on opportunity development.

If you are like most marketers, the lion share of your marketing budget is being invested in new customer acquisition programs.  Yet, for this critical area of opportunity many marketers continue to focus on leads and conversions when they should be focused on delivering marketing qualified leads (MQL’s) to your organization to be developed to Sales Ready.

The reason for this shift will be discussed in more detail below, but the number one reason is that this process delivers more revenue per lead generated and shortens the overall sales cycle.

This is an important consideration for all marketers because not all leads are created equal.  Many of the leads you deliver today are simply looking for more information to start their assessment of you as a potential provider or they are simply researching information on a potential area of opportunity for the future.

Yet, many marketers are sending these leads directly to the sales team for follow-up.

Does that make sense?  Is that the best approach?

Let’s take a quick look at some of the data that suggests that may not be the best course of action.

According to industry study data there is a huge gap in the quality of leads marketers are delivering to their sales organization.  Henry Bruce, President and Founder of  The Rock Arnard Group said it best., “When I reflect on the state of marketing automation, three stats paint a very ominous picture:

  • 70% of the buy cycle is complete before sales engages with buyers
  • Only 50% of a typical sales team achieves quota
  • Only 10%-15% of new leads are considered sales ready

Think about the data reported above…if 70% of the buy cycle is complete before your sales team engages with potential buyers, your ability to convert those leads drops significantly.  Additionally, if only 10-15% of the new leads are sales ready, we are wasting the sales teams time.  The leads need to be nurtured further before sales engages with these opportunities.  This also negatively impacts your Marketing ROI data and you are probably getting a false read on your marketing results and blaming sales for their inability to convert leads to sales.

Since so much of a prospects time is spent researching online before they ever contact a prospective company, you need to have an engagement program that starts a dialogue with these prospects well before they realize they are ready to invest in your solution.   You also need to leverage all of your marketing response channels in order to offer the prospect a chance to provide you with insight on why they are inquiring and what they want right now.  By taking this step you have an opportunity to provide them with high value content and start the nurturing process for future engagements.

By building their awareness, trust and confidence, in you as a potential provider, as well as providing high-value content to educate them, you start an ongoing engagement that ultimately leads to sales ready status.

The days of one and done programs are gone.  You have to build ongoing nurturing programs that both step your prospects through a cycle of high value opportunities to learn more, and provide you critical insight on their current and future needs.

Once you have built a nurturing and scoring program you will be able to deliver high quality leads (sales ready) to your sales team and you will be on your way to improved marketing and sales results in all areas.

By taking your existing program and leveraging technology and messaging in a more strategic and focused manner you can start to transform your overall program results for the long haul.

If you are looking for more information and insight on how to achieve this approach for your business feel free to contact me at or ask your Rider Dickerson representative for more information.

Blog created by Joseph Manos, Executive Vice President, MindFireInc




Mind Your Ink–Use Drawdowns

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


Would you paint your house without seeing a sample of the paint on your wall?  If yes, you are taking a big risk that the color won’t look as nice on your wall as it does on the paint chip in the store.  When we built our house 5 years ago my wife and I went back and forth about paint colors.  The best thing we did was order small sample jars of the colors we were considering and then paint small swatches on the actual walls to see how they looked—especially once the paint dried.  We loved certain colors in the store, but not so much when we saw them on the walls.  Ultimately we were very happy with the final colors.

Why am I writing about my paint selection process you may be asking?  Simple, the same concept holds true when printing PMS (Pantone Matching System for our non print-junkie readers) colors.  Many designers I work with make the common mistake of trusting their PMS books to select their ink colors assuming that just because the color looks like it does in the book that it will look that way when it’s printed. Big mistake!

Just like paint looks different when it dries on your walls, so do inks when they interact with different papers.  The PMS book, like the paint chip books at your local Home Depot, should be used as a guide for choosing your spot colors.  However, if you really want to see what the ink will look like ask your printer for a drawdown.  A drawdown is a swatch of ink applied to the stock you will be printing on.  By taking this extra step you can confirm your choice of spot color was correct or you may not like what you see and choose a different color.   Either way, it’s an important step, and it’s a step I encourage all of my clients to take when working with spot colors.

In some cases you may end up choosing a different ink color.  In other cases you might like the ink but don’t like how it looks on the paper you chose.  In that case you might choose a different stock, pull another drawdown and then move ahead.  The key thing to note is that inks are not opaque.  They are transparent.  They take on the characteristics of the paper they are printed on.  For example, ink sits up nicely on top of a coated sheet of paper (this is called ink holdout).  The color will look more vibrant.  However, take that same ink and print it on a toothy uncoated sheet and the ink soaks into the sheet like a sponge—killing the vibrancy of the ink.  This is why the PMS books come in coated and uncoated.

We worked on a project recently for a new client where pulling drawdowns helped the designer make a really wise paper selection.  You can read the full story here.  Had we not taken the extra step to pull the drawdowns the project may not have had the same great result.  I work with many designers, both experienced and less experienced.  I have learned over the years that many designers just don’t know a drawdown is even a possibility.  This is why I make it my personal responsibility to make sure my clients are aware of their choices so that in the end we are all happy with the direction of the project and the final result.

Have you had any ink nightmares recently?  Let me know.  I’d love to discuss what happened, why it happened and how it could have been avoided.

In my next post I will discuss the importance of choosing brand papers to ensure consistent color across all of your company’s print materials.


“We Do All the Work for You”

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


I was in Jewel recently, and I needed to get a new iPass transponder. Apparently, mine was out of date and would stop working soon, so I needed to upgrade to a new one.  I have to admit, heading to Jewel I expected the worst.  After all, this was a combination of the State of Illinois and Jewel, so can you blame me for anticipating anything but a terrible customer service experience?

To my pleasant surprise, the switch was easy and pain free.  I spent all of 2 minutes in the store and was on my merry way.  I figured I’d have to wait in a line for several minutes, and once I did get my turn I was surely going to have to do extra work to activate this new transponder.  Well, it was nothing like that.  The woman politely took my transponder and my letter from the State of Illinois and promptly scanned the barcode on the letter and the barcode on the new transponder.  She handed me my portion of the letter and my transponder and said told me to have a great day and that I was all set.  I said, “So when I get home I’m going to have to log into my account and enter my new transponder info to fully activate this, right?”  What she said next made my day.  She looked at me with a smile and said “Nope, we do all the work for you.”

There you have it.  We do all the work for you.  Seven simple words that put a smile on my face and gave me some more hope that customer service is still alive and well.  I’ve had my share of horrible customer service experiences with Jewel before, but this was so different.  However, why do I encounter fewer and fewer experiences like this?  What happened to doing everything to make the customer happy?  Don’t get me wrong, there are still lots of companies doing it right—Zappos, Apple and Whole Foods to name a few.  But too often, I encounter lazy sales associates who don’t understand the fundamental principles of customer service.

My job with my clients is to always add value and to make their jobs easier.  If I can’t make those 2 things happen then I’m not doing my job.  This is printed on the back of my business cards.  That’s how committed I am to giving my clients an incomparable experience every time they engage with me and my team at Rider Dickerson on a new project or campaign.  I want my clients to compare every experience they have with another printer to their experiences with me and my team.  And when they do, I want them to say “Boy, it’s just not as easy and good as it is when we work with Dean and Rider.”

I want loyal clients, not satisfied clients.  A satisfied client will leave the second they get a better deal.  A loyal client will stay with me as long as I continue to add value and find ways to exceed their expectations while always having their best interest at heart.

What shocks me is so many people miss the boat on this.  Why folks in customer facing positions—whether it’s a cashier at a retail outlet or an inside sales associate on a phone—can’t grasp the simple concept that the customer is all that matters is beyond me.  It’s not a hard concept when you stop and think about it.  Do whatever it takes to take care of the customer.  There’s only one reason folks don’t do it as much as they should today—laziness.  Shame on those who are too lazy to go above and beyond for the customer and shame on the companies allowing this type of behavior.

How about you?  Do you do what the customer asks, or do you do more than they ask?  Do you surprise them and deliver more in value than you take in payment (the 1st Law of Stratospheric Success in my favorite book “The Go Giver”).  Trust me, going that little bit extra is worth the effort.  It just might make the difference between a loyal customer and one who leaves you the 1st time they get a better deal.

Think about it!


Not Just a Trend

 Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


With the World Cup going on right now, seemingly everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and become an overnight soccer fan.  In the United States, soccer (futbol) does not have the enormous fan base or the notoriety it has in the rest of the world, yet a few weeks ago over 25 million people tuned in the watch the United States play Portugal.  Crazy!  While I understand that everyone is excited and wants to support their country, which I am all for, will this new found notoriety stay or will the MLS go back to having its die-hard fans and that’s about it? The reason I bring this up is our society today is all about trends and jumping for the next big thing.  Take for example MySpace.  This social media site was the be-all end-all social media site ten years ago. Today, MySpace is obsolete compared to other social media sites.  This brings me to my point: the one form of communication that has not changed or been eliminated is print.

In the past few years, some marketers made the assumption that they no longer needed print and that all of their marketing could be done online. As the economy suffered and budgets got slashed, the kneejerk reaction was to cut the print budget and toss all the efforts and resources towards newfangled online marketing approaches.  Don’t get me wrong, online marketing has its place in today’s fast paced marketing world, but to ignore print is to risk having your message get ignored by your target audience.  The stats don’t lie—print works and can be the match that ignites the response rates you seek from your direct marketing campaign. Stats have shown that when print is the driving force and is coupled with email marketing, social media marketing, SMS text messages response rates are astronomically higher than when print is not involved.  According to MarketingProfs, 73% of consumers actually prefer mail over other advertising methods and 40% try new businesses after receiving a direct mail piece. Because everyone receives so many emails, tweets, updates, etc. and the internet is so diluted with garbage- your message may not get across.  Everywhere you look there is another ad, another spam email or post.  By the time your message (even if it is spectacular) gets to the correct person it may not make the impact you hoped for because of the media in which it was received.  Print; however, is tangible.  When you do receive a printed piece that designed well and has a thought-provoking message along with an email, the messaging will be much more difficult to disregard. Unlike many of the online marketing channels, while they can be extremely successful when used correctly, print is not a trend.  Print has been used successfully for years and now rather than replacing it because of the new technology, supplementing it with email, social media, etc. is the way to use it most effectively.  As I had stated in a post earlier, the key is to learn to put print to work for you!

This year we have completed many highly-successful, multi-channel campaigns that have included print.  The research and stats are out there.  While it may cost more initially, the return on your investment will be higher when print is involved.  Visit our website  and to see these case studies.


Is Sloppy Messaging Hurting Your Multichannel Investment?

Melinda Cross

Communications Strategist, Creative Director, Writer

This post comes from Melinda Cross. Melinda is a communications strategist whose career experience has ranged from assistant press secretary on Capitol Hill to group creative director at a large Chicago advertising agency. Her fresh, creative concepts and compelling copy have helped strengthen brand communications for leading businesses and not-for-profit organizations including: American Dairy Association, HSBC,  McDonald’s, Marriott/Ritz-Carlton, Aon Hewitt, Zurich North America, Radius Global Market Research, Abbott Laboratories, CVS Caremark, MMPI/The Merchandise Mart, Loyola University, Goodman Theatre, High Museum of Art, Chicago Opera Theater and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among many others.


Marketers are fortunate to have an abundance of messaging channels in their toolbox in which to reach their target audiences—direct, web, email, mobile, social media (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn), print, broadcast, in-store, call center and more.  A great deal of planning resources and time is spent determining the appropriate multichannel strategy for a campaign using data analytics to deliver insights into customer behavior and response.  Depending on budget levels, a multichannel touchpoint plan may use anywhere from a minimum to three channels to a dozen or more.  But the strategic work is only half completed once the ink on the touchpoint flowchart dries.

If your plan calls for multiple touchpoints over weeks or months with your target audience, managing the message flow is equally as critical as the channel choice.  Marketers operate in a  “what do you have new for me today?” customer environment. Attention spans are shorter than ever (can we say 140 characters?). Inboxes are overflowing with writers’ best attempts at “open me-read me” subject lines.  Even the LinkedIn newsfeed is hard for customers to keep up with and sort according to their interests and preferences (wouldn’t you love to be a LinkedIn Influencer and have all those eyeballs on your message?).

Cutting through the clutter requires strategic marketers to also be strategic messagers—determining the right words at the right time in the right place. Think of strategic messaging as an unfolding story—how do you engage your audience with a compelling beginning, middle and end to your campaign message? Too many marketers think that maximizing their channel spend means they’ve got to say as much as they can squeeze in at every touchpoint along the way. Or to keep hammering home the same point each and every time. That’s a sure-fire way to get your audience to tune out after a couple of touchpoints.  A well-honed messaging strategy helps you avoid sloppy and dull storytelling.

So how do you strategically plan your messaging? For starters, map out the “RCAs” of each touchpoint:

  • Relevant: What’s the most relevant message for your audience at that touchpoint in their decision pathway?  You’d be annoyed if a salesperson in your favorite store started dumping all the information they had on a product in the first 60 seconds—some messages are more relevant early on in the conversation. Same rule applies for campaign messaging in print, on air, and in the digital world.  And a message that is appropriate for Twitter doesn’t always translate well to the web or print.
  • Concise: How can you get across your message as concisely as possible? Put your journalist hat on and think about what makes the most compelling lede for your story—a short paragraph at best.  This often takes a lot of editorial discipline to cut out anything but the most critical messages at that juncture. You can always give your audience directions to get more information if they want—a landing page link in the digital world or a web address in the print or broadcast world.
  • Actionable: Don’t leave your audience standing alone in the middle of the field—always have a clear and actionable path forward towards the final goal.  It can be an invitation to learn more, call to speak to a human being, sign in to their account, or anything that moves them closer to a final decision.

If you’re a marketer looking for the best ROI for your campaign, take the planning time to strategize your message by decision cycle timing and channel focus will pay off.


Making Mail Magic with Visual Tricks

Trish Witkowski,


This post comes to us from Trish Witkowski, the Chief Folding Fanatic at  An educator, author, speaker and award-winning designer, Trish specializes in creative solutions for mail and marketing.  She hosts a popular e-video series “60-second Super-cool FOLD of the WEEK.” Trish holds a MS in Printing and a BFA in Graphic Design from RIT.

There are so many great ways to get someone engaged in a mail piece. Color, and envelopes and opening mechanisms, and size and shape and printing techniques and paper choice and more—but my favorite go-to strategy of the moment is the visual trick.

I love visual tricks because they’re fun, and simple and very inexpensive. I get a lot of requests for cheap ideas that offer a lot of bang for the buck, and visual tricks really fit the bill.

If you’re unfamiliar with the technique, a visual trick is when imagery is the focal point, and the audience is somehow invited to interact with it—maybe by revealing a slightly different image behind the original (think smiley face to sad face) or by using a short fold to remove a phone from the cradle or to “open” an oven door. You can do neat things with zip strips, pull tabs and peek-a-boo perfed windows, too. There are no rules, but the fun is in the surprise and the creativity. The experience of receiving and opening the mail piece becomes memorable, intriguing and can lead to a response or further investigation.

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few fun real-world samples from my collection.

trish image 1  trish image 2

Credit: J.S. McCarthy Printers


trish image 3

Credit: Vision Marketing

For more engagement strategies, check out my “Direct Mail Strategy” course on, and my eBook series Direct Mail Simplified, available at Lastly, don’t forget to visit to view over 350 videos featuring creative marketing ideas.

Using Video in Your Marketing Efforts

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


The old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”- well then a video is worth ten times that! It is not a secret that today’s society is completely bombarded by news articles, emails, tweets, etc. that most of the time those written messages get skimmed for the important details, read and disregarded.  Video is a great way to capture someone’s attention, making an impact and hopefully making the sale. 73% of consumers said they would be more willing to buy a product online if there was a video to view the product (marketingprofs).  Video use isn’t just limited to marketing a product.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a welcome video on your website when a potential customer came to your site where they could click and get a great understanding of your business directly from you?! The great thing about video marketing is this allows companies to really showcase their personality!

While trying to practice what I’m preaching- I will keep this post short and sweet.  Here are a few great examples of video marketing:



Simply Hike:


At Rider Dickerson we have been using video marketing for the past few years to showcase cool projects or to preview the great content in our printForum conference. If you are interested in viewing any of our videos please visit our YouTube Channel.






Dean Petrulakis

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


How Important is Your Data in Direct Mail

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

I don’t think there is a simpler way to put this- your data is THE most important element driving your direct mail responses.  Yes, there are many things that go into creating a successful direct mail piece such as; a great design, catchy wording, the right message, etc. but if you do not have accurate data that amazingly designed piece is worthless.  You may have seen the 40/40/20 rule established by marketing expert Ed Mayer.  40% of the effectiveness of your mailing is attributed to the data.  Today, I’ve heard it suggested that it’s now the 60/20/20 rule.  60% data, 20% offer and 20% everything else. 

Being able to get your message into your audience’s hands is half the battle.  This topic reminds me of story that a client once told me. This client spent mucho dinero creating an extremely high-end direct mail piece and didn’t bother taking the time or spending the money on making sure their mailing list was clean and accurate.  They mailed the oversized, beautifully designed piece, accumulating a higher postage rate because it was oversized, and much to their surprise received 90% of the pieces back in the mail because the pieces were undeliverable to the addresses they used, or the company had a new address, or the information was simply incorrect. All of the money they used on that beautiful design= a complete waste. The message never got to their audience.

Some people may read that story and think- why even use direct mail in the first place?  Well, studies show that marketers that used direct mail along with other marketing channels to get their messages across saw a 72% higher response!( In today’s world, everyone is constantly bombarded with emails, tweets and posts that it is refreshing when we receive a well-designed direct mail piece and we are more 10-30 times more likely to take action rather than just receiving an email only. (Adage)

One way that we at Rider Dickerson clean up our data list and help our clients do so is through our SmartTrack Technology.  With SmartTrack, you can drive visitors to a set of landing pages where you have the ability to ask them to update their personal information, address, phone number, etc. so that you have accurate information for your next mailing. SmartTrack software is extremely user-friendly and can be linked directly to your CRM so the updated information you receive on the landing pages filters directly into your database.  We also work with our clients at the outset of a mailing and help them secure the right mailing list.  Outside of your house list, there are many ways to target the right audience for your mailing.  Based on factors such as geographics, demographics and psychographics, we can pull just the right lists to help our clients’ message get to the right people at the right time.

printForum is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, March 11th 2014, “Made You Look! Made You Buy! The Secrets of Engaging Mail!” featuring special guest speaker, Trish Witkowski of  If you are looking for ways to improve your direct mail responses you won’t want to miss this free webinar! Register here!  Hope to see you there!


Dean Petrulakis

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


Three Reasons to Make Marketing Planning a Priority in 2014

Julia Brady

Principal, Perceptive Strategies 

This post comes to us from Julia Brady, Principal at Perceptive Strategies. Julia is a marketing and brand strategy consultant who has written dozens of marketing plans for consumer product and services brands.  Julia built her brand foundation with eight years at PepsiCo, followed by a decade working in healthcare and higher education marketing.  Julia partners with Rider Dickerson on various high-level marketing campaigns, bringing her marketing strategy expertise to the table to give shape and definition to the campaigns.


When I started a new position as Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Communications for NorthShore University HealthSystem in mid-2009, one of the first documents I looked for was the Marketing Plan.  You know, that fifty page, single-spaced, Word document so carefully written and sitting in a binder somewhere.

After some inquiry, I found out that marketing planning was an activity discontinued years before, seen as a futile effort in such a fast-changing organization.  I wasn’t convinced; how do we know what success looks like? What clinical areas should we invest in? What role do important investments like advertising, direct mail and public relations play in growing the NorthShore brand and engendering loyalty?

While marketing planning is an annual ritual for consumer brands like Cheerios and Gatorade, its value in building service brands, particularly in high engagement brand sectors like healthcare and higher education, is not always as clear. Having worked in both consumer products and services marketing, I can share three key reasons why marketing planning for your organization is actually very important. 


Reason 1: Marketing Planning Creates Focus

As most marketers in service organizations know, the marketing team is not always at the table when key strategic decisions are being made. This means many priorities are handed to marketing, and the team often operates in reactive-mode.  A marketing planning process forces focus and articulation of priorities, which can help the marketing department work smarter and be more effective.

Prior to instituting annual marketing planning at NorthShore, my department was reacting to frequent requests just weeks prior to a go-live date. By creating a marketing planning process, the marketing team as well as the clinical department was able to work smarter and plan for measurement, so results could be more clearly tied to initiatives. Even better, this process created more flexibility to respond to requests driven by a competitive move or a newly prioritizes services launch. In the end, both the marketing team and the clinical departments came out ahead.    


Reason 2: Creating a Smart Marketing Plan Will Take Less Time Than You Think  

I have developed and advised on dozens of marketing plans in my career, and have learned that the best plans are concise and efficient documents. There are a handful of key ingredients in a marketing plan, and each section of the plan can ultimately be contained in a couple of pages. 

An important rule of thumb is to start with clear, measurable objectives. For many organizations that can be volume growth, as well as a less financially oriented goal such as service experience improvements to drive loyalty. When working on a plan for a Cancer Center within a large health system, one goal may be to drive patients volume, and another may be to enhance patient experience through key service measures.

The other critical section of the marketing plan is the strategies.  This section calls for more focus; important decisions are made to determine which strategic initiatives will help achieve the plan objectives. For a university looking to raise its profile, one strategy may be to engage alumni as ambassadors. The strategy section should comprise a handful of key strategies, ideally three to five total. The tactical initiatives align to each strategy area, creating a logical, focused marketing program. 


Reason 3: Marketing Planning Positions Marketing as a Strategic Partner 

When done right, marketing can act as a convener, bringing together diverse areas of your organization to create a strategic document focused on driving organizational growth.  As I alluded to earlier, for a long time at NorthShore marketing was seen as the “order takers” and requests came from clinical departments for a brochure or a new web page.  Operating this way was not effective and drained the morale of the marketing team.   By instituting a planning process marketing could approach a key internal client and ask them numerous strategic questions about business growth objectives, challenges and opportunities that positioned the marketing team as a smart, engaged partner. 

If marketing planning is not a regular part of operations, your organization may be missing opportunities for driving growth through more focused marketing efforts. Creating a concise, effective marketing plan that can serve as an important platform for engaging customers while unifying the organizational vision. It should not be the arduous task some books make it out to be and can actually save money in the long run as you achieve clarity on your most important and effective marketing investments.


Julia Brady

Principal, Perceptive Strategies

Reflections on printForum 3

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

It’s been 2 weeks since our wildly successful printForum 3 event in Chicago.  We brought together nearly 200 clients and friends in the creative and marketing community for an afternoon of inspiration, learning and networking.  We had quite a bit of fun as well!

As I think back on printForum 3, a few key things stand out in my mind from our impressive group of speakers.  Trish Witkowski (@foldingfanatic), showed us how direct mail is still one of the most effective tools for attention grabbing, action sparking response driven marketing.  Direct mail, when done right, has a way of emotionally connecting with customers in a way digital just can’t.  It evokes feelings and inspires action.

Of course, what would a session with Trish be without some folding inspiration, as Trish walked us through her top 10 favorite direct mail pieces.  Trish’s session wasn’t all about the creative aspects of direct mail.  She shared hard hitting stats about response rates and covered key postal regulations, many of which have changed recently. Lastly, Trish drove home the point that all the cool and well designed direct mail in the world doesn’t matter if your list stinks.  Data. Data. Data.

Scott Stratten (more popularly known as unmarketing) honestly stole the show.  Scott had a room of 200 people laughing (in tears for many of us) for 1 hour.  I describe it as marketing meets stand-up comedy– more of an inspirational rant rather than a keynote.  Not lost in the hilarity of Scott’s talk was the overriding message:  we need to be smarter about how we engage with our customers.  The brand is not the logo (I’m laughing thinking about Scott’s logo rant!).  The brand is the experience at every touch point within our organization.  The sooner we realize that the better.  I think there was something in Scott’s rant about QR codes as well—I think!

Scott has a massive following on Twitter (@unmarketing), and he was one of the early adopters of what I now consider to be my favorite social media channel.  Scott talked about the power and the immediacy of social media, but he warned that if you want to play in the real time world of social media you better be prepared for a 24/7 job.  He also said that Twitter has no ROI.  Rather, being awesome on Twitter has an ROI.  Want to go viral—then do something or say something worth talking about.  That’s how you go viral.

Following Scott’s unforgettable rant we heard from an esteemed panel of Chief Marketing Officers as they addressed the balance of Art (brand awareness advertising) and Science (ROI driven marketing).  Our panel featured Megan Bueschel of Mario Tricoci, Michelle Spellerberg of Sikich and Kelly Shannon of Loyola University Chicago.  These 3 impressive women explained the challenges of running a brand while being tasked with driving and measuring numbers at the same time.  The audience had the chance to get inside the panelists’ minds and ask questions.  The insight shared was helpful to everyone.

We closed the afternoon with an interactive session led by the iconic Second City actors.  “Funny Business”, as the session was titled, was meant to teach us how improv can make us better marketers, better sales professionals, and better overall in our professional and personal lives.  We learned that listening is indeed an active skill (see a prior blog post I wrote about this—I firmly believe this).  We also learned how saying “yes and” completely shifts the tone and flow of the conversation and can spark a new level of creativity in our organizations.

printForum is truly is our platform for educating and engaging our customers.  The content we share in our event and throughout the year in our magazine, emails, webinars, etc.. is thoughtful and meant to challenge our customers to think differently.  We accomplished that goal with printForum 3, and we now look forward to printForum 4.



Dean Petrulakis

Rider Dickerson

Senior VP, Business Development

A Different Kind of Networking

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

I was having breakfast with a client recently.  This is nothing new.  I have many breakfasts, lunches and dinners with clients.  The breakfast meeting was a really good one.  We talked about business opportunities and discussed ways we might be able to help each other grow our respective businesses.  We talked a lot about networking and building trust with clients, and that developing new business is a process that requires more than cold calling.  It was a nice conversation and a mutually beneficial meeting. However, it’s what happened after breakfast that may have forever changed our relationship—in a good way.

My client is from St. Louis, and we were having breakfast in Chicago.  We wrapped up our meeting around 10 am so she could have plenty of time to hop in her rental car and make it to the far northern suburbs for an important noon client meeting.  I had a noon lunch meeting as well and had planned to spend the next hour or so catching up on emails that had piled up during our meeting.  We walked outside, shook hands and discussed my plans to come visit her and her colleagues at their office in St. Louis in the fall.  The sun was shining, and we were both excited about the rest of our respective days.

As I turned to head to my car my client had a look of utter shock and disbelief on her face.  She looked up the block and didn’t see her car.  For a moment she thought maybe she parked on another block, but that was just wishful thinking.  She had indeed been towed.  As panic began to set in, I assured her we would figure out where her car was and go get it.  I even chuckled a bit in disbelief myself.  She would later tell me that chuckle and my statement put her at ease.

As we drove to the impound lot to get my client’s car she was still visibly frustrated by this crazy turn of events.  It took her 4 or 5 phone calls just to learn where her car was, and now she was most likely going to be late to her important meeting.  After finally learning where her car was she laughed and said to me “Well this certainly takes our relationship to a whole new level! Talk about networking.”

We shared a good laugh, but inside I couldn’t help but think how this whole episode would have never happened if my client and I didn’t arrange this breakfast meeting and take the time to meet with each other.  Sure, we email, text, and exchange phone calls.  However, we both are big believers in personal interaction.  We know that business is still earned, grown and solidified in the face-to-face interactions we have with our customers. True bonding and rapport cannot happen on LinkedIn or Twitter. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big believer in the power of Social Media and developing a network of connections on the outlets that are most appropriate for your business.  But, all of the activity on those Social Media platforms can’t replace the dynamic of actual networking and personal interaction.

It’s easy to sit at your computer, tablet or smartphone and fire off tweets and status updates on LinkedIn or Facebook.  It doesn’t take much effort to be honest.  I do it all the time.  I have made many good connections as a result.  However, those relationships are strengthened and cemented in the three dimensional world of networking events, conferences, business meetings, breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Heck, you may even be in a position to rescue a client in need one day and change your relationship forever.  I know I won’t forget this day.  I’m pretty sure my client won’t either. 


 Dean Petrulakis

Rider Dickerson

Senior VP Business Development


Listen Up

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


I’m 43 years old.  Yet I can remember back to my days as a know- it-all teenager when my dad gave me a lecture about listening.  He said 4 words that have stuck with me my whole life—“listening is a skill.”  I didn’t really know what he meant at the time, and I’m sure I told him I understood even though I probably wanted him to stop talking so I could go back outside and play basketball.

Many people talk about having sports figures as their role models, but for me it was my dad.  He was my role model.  I wanted to be just like him.  I looked up to him.  I guess it’s funny that he is a lifelong salesman and I am now a successful sales professional myself.  One thing is certain—my dad couldn’t have had the successful career he’s enjoyed as one of his company’s top sales reps if he didn’t spend his days listening to his clients more than talking at them!

All these years later I find myself hearkening back to that lecture from my old man.  I have 3 children, one of whom is a 12 year-old boy. I can’t even recount how many times I’ve recited those same 4 words to my son.  He insists he’s listening, but I know he isn’t.  He might be hearing me or his mother when we lecture him, but he’s not listening.  He’s young.  He hasn’t learned what it means to truly listen.  I can’t blame him.  I was probably the same way, but I feel it’s my obligation to teach him to learn earlier than I did that listening is one of the most important skills he will develop as he continues to grow and eventually become a man himself.

American philosopher Mortimer Adler wrote more than 30 years ago something that holds true today:

“Is anyone anywhere taught how to listen?  How utterly amazing is the general assumption that the ability to listen well is a natural gift for which no training is required.  How extraordinary is the fact that no effort is made anywhere in the whole educational process to help individuals learn how to listen well.”

I spend my days in my role as Senior Vice President of Business Development at Rider Dickerson, working with clients in many industries, and my clients have needs that are very specific to their business goals. It’s my job to ask questions and listen so that I can learn what their challenges so I can discover how I can help my clients.  Even better, if I ask the right kinds of questions and listen intently I should be able to help the client identify problems they didn’t even realize existed.  Imagine the value you could deliver to your clients if you listened with such clarity that you could uncover underlying issues for your client—just think about the value you could add.

So the next time you are in a personal interaction with a colleague, client, friend or family member, make a concerted effort to pay attention to your listening habits.  Are you really actively listening to what the other person is saying, or are you waiting for them to finish what they are saying so you can spit out your next thought?  If you find yourself falling into the latter, try this little tip—wait for 3 seconds after the person with whom you are speaking finishes his or her thought before you respond.  The little gap of silence might seem odd, but you won’t risk the chance of interrupting the other person, and you give yourself the opportunity to absorb what was just said to you.

Remember, listening is a skill, and like any skill it takes practice to improve. Start today!  


 Dean Petrulakis

Rider Dickerson

Senior VP Business Development





Making a Splash with Mobile Marketing

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

In today’s marketing world there are many different channels to choose from when trying to get your message out.  In the past year Mobile Marketing has become one of the most talked about channels.  With everyone attached to their mobile devices all day long, mobile marketing is a great choice to capture your audience’s attention.  It has been said that a person’s mobile device is the one thing they could not live without.  According to a recent survey conducted by Nokia, it found that looking at their phone is the first thing many people do each day – as they use its alarm function – and is also the last. In between, phones are used to check the internet, read emails, take photos as well as to make calls and send texts.  With individuals being this attached to their mobile phones, mobile marketing has been a great channel to get your message out to your target audience.

It has been found that 93% of SMS text messages are opened within 4 minutes of sending!- that is a fabulous open rate! On average, users check their smartphones close to 150 times or every 6.5 minutes during a waking day of 16 hours!  Using mobile as a part of your marketing campaign can help drive a higher response rate. While mobile alone will not drive response rates and interactions, when coupled with other media channels it can be a very persuasive and powerful tool.

Mobile marketing is not limited to only sending text message reminders; it can be utilized through QR Codes, promotional coupons, links, videos, etc. There are many great use cases of how to successfully use mobile marketing. One example of using mobile marketing strategically in your marketing mix is Red Bull.  They recently launched a mobile media campaign that drove potential customers from a US Weekly Mobile Ad to the company’s mobile site where consumers could learn more about the product.   Red Bull has been able to showcase its new products and drive more traffic to it website through this mobile ad. To read the full article on how Red Bull used mobile media in its marketing campaign click here.( )  

Another marketing campaign that Rider Dickerson ran which included mobile marketing was CRAIN’s Chicago Business Vision 2013.  CRAIN’s Chicago Business ran a cross media marketing campaign that incorporated print materials, the CRAIN’s website, and QR Codes leading to a mobile optimized microsite. Through the use of QR Codes, we were able to drive the audience to the mobile experience.  Visitors were able to download the chosen article directly to their mobile device. There are many other ways that you can incorporate mobile into your marketing campaign such as event reminder texts, promotional text messages, links to microsites, coupons, videos, and many more.

One mobile marketing campaign that we ran in the fall was for Robert Morris University.  The integrated strategy for the RMU Camp College Campaign was composed of variable postcards to 21,000 students containing a text short code, “CampRMU”, which will respond with a link leading students to a landing page experience. The postcards also included a URL and QR Code leading students to the landing page incase students could not receive text messages. On the mobile- optimized landing pages students were asked to fill out a form to schedule a visit to attend Camp College. With most high school students attached to their cell phones, using SMS texts to help students sign up for a visit day worked out great!  

Whether you would like to start with a simple SMS text message incorporated in your marketing campaign such as a text for an event reminder or if you are ready to dive in to mobile marketing with a more elaborate mobile campaign similar to the Crain’s Vision campaign there are many different levels of involvement.  For your next marketing campaign there are plenty of ways to incorporate mobile marketing with any budget.  If you have questions regarding mobile marketing, would like more information on the case studies or where to get started, I am happy to have a conversation.


Dean Petrulakis

Rider Dickerson

Senior VP Business Development

Making an Impact with Direct Mail

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

Every day the average American receives over 3,000 messages- that is a huge amount of information each day! We are constantly bombarded with text messages, billboards, T.V. and radio commercials, online ads, etc. The average person remembers eight of those messages each day.   In order to get your message heard and remembered it is important to stand out.  Because digital media can sometimes be diluted with so many messages, the use of print in your marketing campaign can help your message be heard and stand out in the clutter.

In 2013, The Target Marketing Media Usage Survey found direct mail delivers the strongest ROI out of all media channels. (printinthemix) According to the study, customer acquisition for direct mail was 31.3% and customer retention was 37.5%. Incorporating the use of direct mail in your marketing campaign may help to have your service or product be remembered. In today’s society, Millennials (people who are between the ages of 18-33) make many purchasing decisions.  Knowing how to target them correctly is imperative.  While one would think that since they are constantly on their phones or connecting via social media, that would be the way to get their attention.  If it is done in the correct way it could be but according to a study found in Deliver Magazine, 75% of Millennials would prefer to be contacted or sold to via direct mail.  This is because they are on their phones and social media channels all day that when a well-done mail piece arrives to them it captures their attention.  Like I mentioned before, it is all about standing out so any old postcard or letter just won’t do.  You need to invest in quality creative and targeted messaging.  More important, you need to make sure your mailer is sent to the right person at the right time.

With that in mind, there are ways to spice up your direct mail without breaking your budget.  One way to grab your target’s attention in the mail is with the use of color.  While most of the mail that comes to your house is in a white window envelope, just by adding color to that envelope can instantly help you stand out.  This is also true with postcards.  While everyone receives hundreds of junk mail postcards each year, many of which don’t get read- with great design and minimal copy and a strong call to action you have a better chance of getting noticed.  Another way to standout is through the use of personalization.  Everyone likes to feel that the messaging relevant to them.  In fact, they expect it today!  There’s simply too much data out there for you not segment your list and target folks more effectively. pURLs (Personal URLs) can be added to mail pieces to drive recipients to an engaging online experience.  By using personalization correctly, messaging and creative can have more of an impact on individuals.  It is important to always have a call to action with each piece of mail you send so that pieces are not just being sent for the sake of being sent.

With any marketing campaign it is important to track the success of the pieces.  Our SmartTrack technology allows marketers to do just that.  We can manage various pieces and see when they arrive in recipient’s mailboxes and can schedule a follow-up email or text to remind them to check their mail.  In addition if the direct mail piece is personalized with a pURL our technology can track that pURL and see when the targeted person visits their personalized microsite experience.  It is a great way to track the piece and see how well it did. We can provide the client with real time dashboards so that they can monitor and respond to leads in a timely manner—helping them convert leads into sales more efficiently.   With many people investing in digital technology and throwing print to the way side, it is important to see how print still plays a huge role in the marketing mix.

Direct mail has been a primary channel of marketing communications for decades and will continue to be in the future.  You may have noticed that you receive less magazine and printed inserts in the mail than you did years before.  Personally, because print pieces are rare and if they have a good message, they tend to make more of an impact than 1 of the 500 emails we read each day.  If you are looking to stand out it would be a great idea for your next marketing campaign to invest in “smart” direct mail and really connect with your target audience.

Dean Petrulakis


Marketing Trends for 2013

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

I hope everyone has had a great start to 2013. With all of the stress and craziness of the holidays way behind us now, it’s nice to get back to the grind and focus on bettering yourself for the new year.  Many people make New Year’s Resolutions each year such as; lose weight, eat better, spend more time with the family, quit smoking, etc., but rarely keep up with them.  Did you know the average New Year’s resolution lasts 4-5 weeks?! If you are one of those people who has already let your New Year’s resolution slip now is the time to get back on track! While you are setting your own goals for 2013, it is important to keep in mind some of the most prevalent predicted marketing trends for 2013.

The marketing trend that in my opinion I think will really make an impact in 2013 is Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality is relatively new and is grabbing the attention of marketers everywhere.  It is digital sensory technology.  Imagine being able to try on any watch you want all while sitting in front of your computer.  Talking Dog Studios allows you to do just that! Check out this awesome example of augmented reality.  With this technology just becoming prevalent in the market place the opportunities and use cases are endless! Augmented Reality is definitely something that we are looking forward to using in 2013!

We have seen in the last year how mobile has completely exploded onto the scene.  It is now a key player in all multi-channel marketing campaigns. predicts that 68% of companies will increase their mobile marketing budget.  Whether it’s for in store ad displays, SMS text campaigns, or mobile coupons mobile marketing is going to continue to grow and be an effective marketing channel.  The average U.S. adult spends 82 minutes a day on their phone! If your company is not utilizing mobile marketing at this time, it may be something you should look into.

Similar to the early adoption of mobile marketing, are QR Codes.  QR Codes have been used in Europe and Asia since the early 90’s but have just become popular in the U.S. in the past few years. Many marketers are still trying to get the hang of how to properly use QR Codes effectively.  Two companies that have used QR Codes correctly are Cadillac and McDonalds.  Make sure to check out how they used QR codes to engage their customers and potential customers.

Another form of media that has always grabbed the audience’s attention is video.  Rather than sending out an article on a certain subject many marketers have already started shooting videos to capture the viewer’s attention. According to Internet Retailer, visitors who view product videos are 85% more likely to buy than visitors who do not. Setting up your own YouTube channel and creating more videos is one way to better capture your target audience’s attention. In 2012, video was the fastest growing ad growth and it doesn’t show any signs to be slowing down in 2013. Just remember to keep the video short and focused.  The average consumer is so overwhelmed with marketing messages every day, and you don’t want to lose their attention with a video that runs too long.  The duration of the average online content video is 6.7 minutes.

Other trends that are predicted to continue to make an impact in 2013 are location based check ins, integrated social media, inbound marketing, data and content marketing to name a few.

With a month and a half already over, I hope that if you haven’t already made goals for 2013 that maybe I have influenced you to do that now! If not, at least I gave you some cool marketing trends to research! I hope that 2013 is a very prosperous and successful year for everyone!

Dean Petrulakis







Keeping it Social: How Loyola University Chicago Integrated Social Media into Every Aspect of a Key Marketing Campaign

This month we are pleased to feature Melissa Niksic, Marketing Communications Specialist at Loyola University Chicago, as a guest blogger.  Melissa is a long-time client of Rider Dickerson, and we affectionately call her a “friend of the program”!  Melissa was a featured presenter at our inaugural printForum conference in 2011, and we lean on her for her social media expertise.  Melissa’s role at Loyola has evolved over time, and today she oversees all of Loyola’s enrollment social media marketing and video marketing efforts.  Melissa also handles select print and direct mail projects, and fully understands how print and the digital world can work wonderfully together. We love working with clients like Loyola who understand that it’s not a question of which channel to use.  Rather, it’s a matter of how to make them work together synergistically to create maximum impact with your marketing message and to reach your target audience effectively.

Keeping it Social: How Loyola University Chicago Integrated Social Media into Every Aspect of a Key Marketing Campaign

By: Melissa Niksic
Marketing Communications Specialist, Loyola University Chicago

Imagine that you’re a high school senior trying to decide where to attend college next year. Most of us probably remember being inundated with college viewbooks in the mail when we were applying to schools (sadly, I am probably showing my age here). Things have changed dramatically, and while print materials are still a huge part of the enrollment marketing equation, today’s students are also bombarded with e-mail messages, Web sites, mobile communications, and of course social media. Multiple channels give universities an advantage because there are now more ways than ever to connect with students. However, with multiple schools competing for each student’s attention (and tuition dollars), how do you make your campaign stand out? That’s the question we asked ourselves when we revamped our Loyola Weekend campaign in January 2012.

Loyola Weekend is our largest yield event of the year. All admitted undergraduate students are invited to campus for what is basically a glorified open house. Statistics show that the majority of students who attend Loyola Weekend ultimately enroll at Loyola, so we knew that we needed to make this campaign special. In addition to giving the entire look of the campaign a design overhaul to match our new undergraduate branding, we decided that it was essential to bring social media to the forefront of the campaign—the entire campaign.

Loyola has had enormous success using social media as a recruitment tool, particularly via our class pages on Facebook (“Class of 2016,” etc.). We wanted to capitalize on that success and generate even more student engagement through social media to create buzz around Loyola Weekend. We also recognized that our target audience strongly valued social media as a method of connecting with the Loyola community. Therefore, we made sure to incorporate social media into every single communication that went out to students regarding the event. Some examples:

  • We collaborated with Rider Dickerson to create a dynamic personalized print invitation to Loyola Weekend. Each invite included a link to the registration Web site, along with a QR code. When scanned with a smartphone, the QR code directed students to a mobile landing page featuring a teaser video about Loyola Weekend, as well as a mobile registration form.
  • The Web site we created for Loyola Weekend also featured an energetic video designed to get students excited about the event. The site included personalization features specific to each student, making the experience more targeted to each individual user. Every page on the site also included links to videos, blogs, and Loyola’s various social media channels.
  • Every Loyola Weekend e-mail communication encouraged students to connect with Loyola and with each other via social media. Many e-mails also featured our Loyola blogs and videos very prominently (and many of those blogs and videos contained messages specific to Loyola Weekend).
  • During the event itself, we organized several contests using social media that allowed students to win prizes by engaging with the university through various social channels. We also live-tweeted during the event, and let students know that candid photos taken of them on campus would be available for them to view and download on our Facebook and Flickr channels.

I’ve worked on the Loyola Weekend campaign for several years, and the latest campaign was definitely the most time-consuming. There were so many different aspects to the campaign, all of which were somehow tied to social media. So what were the end results? Ultimately, we had the largest Loyola Weekend turnout in history. Additionally, we saw huge spikes in our social media activity, and shortly after the Loyola Weekend event, our “Class of 2016” Facebook page greatly surpassed class pages from previous years in terms of number of “likes” and overall user activity.

As we gear up to launch a new Loyola Weekend campaign in January 2013, we will build off of the successes we had this past year and incorporate new ways of bringing social media to the forefront. If you have any questions about Loyola or about this campaign, please feel free to contact me at or @melissaniksic.

Put Print to Work

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


When you meet as many people as I do and interact with as many different personalities as I’m fortunate enough to do on a daily basis, the question “Aren’t people printing less these days” comes up a lot.  I get it. Believe me, I get it.  At Rider Dickerson, we certainly put our fair share of ink on paper.  Truth be told, putting ink on paper is something we’ve done for years and years, and quite well if I may say so myself.  However, in today’s climate, being just another printer is an ill fated recipe for disaster in my opinion.

We realize our clients are under tremendous stress today.  There are more channels available to get your marketing message out to your intended audience than in the history of mankind.  In fact, there are probably too many if you ask me!  It’s enough to make your head spin.  To that end, we realize our clients don’t roll out of bed in the morning, pump their fist and say “Yes, I get to go to press today with our new direct mail piece!”  Having said that, print is proven (and I believe will continue to) to be a valuable medium in today’s mix.  When done right, print has the ability to stand out from the clutter and create an emotional connection with your end customer in a way that’s real and tangible.  That’s why my answer to the question I reference above is a simple one.  At Rider Dickerson, our job is to help our clients use print more strategically and thoughtfully.  Better put, our job is to help our clients put print to work!

What does that mean? Simply stated, how can our clients’ printed pieces-whether they be direct response marketing pieces or high-end collateral pieces—be more effective.  The technology is at our fingertips to do some pretty amazing stuff on press and in post-press finishing processes.  Heck, we are now able to print overtop of a metallic laminate to make traditional inks look iridescent.  It’s so cool, and our clients are eating it up.  Talk about making an impact with a printed piece!  That’s just one example.  I have more, but for the sake of keeping this post succinct I will save those for another day.

Let’s talk about 2 other ways print can be used differently and more effectively today.  The easy one is variable data and customized print.  This is nothing new, but as marketers become more and more savvy on collecting better data on their customers and potential customers, we stand in the great position to help them make sense of that data and use it in well thought-out targeted and relevant print pieces that speak directly and in absolute relevant terms to many segments within their list.

The stats are there to support it–personalization is proven to drive higher response rates. I’m not talking about simply putting somebody’s name on a piece and calling it personalized.  Rather, I’m talking about true database marketing.  No more “spray and pray”, when we mail the same piece with the same message and same imagery to everyone on the list and keep our fingers crossed for a lift in response rates.  Marketers understand the need for personal and relevant communications, and during a 7 month period during 2011 the amount of mail that was personalized was 46% higher than in 2009 (printinthemix).  Shame on us and shame on our clients if we are not leveraging data and making our direct mail more relevant (and then tracking and measuring it on the back end—see my previous post on Cross Media).  And for an excellent example of a customized publication, check out this case study.

And then there’s print on demand.  Again, this is not necessarily a new concept.  Only in the past few years has it picked up momentum, and we can tie that back to the surge in digital printing and the improved quality of digital printing. As we continue to educate our customers on the advances in digital printing and the efficiencies that can be realized by streamlining their print and distribution across their organization, interest level has risen and we can begin to discover ways the concept of print on demand might make sense for our respective clients.  Within that challenge lies our opportunity to bring more value to our clients.  Print on demand, when it makes sense, is proven to work.  It’s simple—print only what you need, when you need it, and give your national retail network or sales organization access to these branded materials through a user-friendly web portal.  Pieces can be customized, and they are printed and shipped within a few days to exactly where they need to be.  Brilliant, huh!

These are but a few examples of how we are using print differently with our clients.  There are many others, and as always, the ultimate goal is to help our customers make the most impact and get the most value out of their printed pieces.  Let’s start a dialogue and continue to find ways to put print to work!


Dean Petrulakis

Senior Vice President,

Business Development